My name is Nicola and I am a coffee addict.
It’s such an integral part of my life it even gets top-line billing in my Twitter bio.
It punctuates the high and lows of my day, is critical to my level of alertness and represents the largest proportion of liquid intake in my diet.
When I pass a cafe I pause to take in the happiness-inducing aroma, even if I’m rushing.
I schedule regular trips to places with squashy sofas, complicated machines and baristas with extensive experience in steam management and cocoa distribution.
They are my happy place as I sit and gaze around the bloggers, shoppers, company-seeking mums and business-types, all plugged-in and like me, enjoying a certain rush.
At work, regular cups of the posh instant variety, fill the void and stimulate my senses. It courses through my veins.
And I’m not alone.
But what is this stuff that has so many of us hooked?
Caffeine – the most socially acceptable drug of all.
News this week that two students were left fighting for their lives after being given enough caffeine for 300 cups of coffee certainly makes you question the wisdom of imbibing something so potent even a double shot can make the heart pump faster.
The experiment at Northumbria University went horribly wrong when somebody got a decimal point wrong.
Their bodies couldn’t cope with 30g caffeine – a normal cup of coffee contains 0.1g.
Obviously many things taken in excess are dangerous but what if you have been drip feeding this drug through your veins for years?
Clearly many of us are addicted to the world’s most popular pyschoactive drug – an addiction that has fuelled a coffee culture and industry to the tune of billions worldwide.
If withdrawal headaches and dehydration aren’t evidence of an addiction alone, coffee is making the wheels of commerce go round – and round.
According the International Coffee Organisation (ICO) world coffee exports amounted to 9.94 millions bags in November 2016, compared with 8.74 million in November 2015.
It is the second most in-demand commodity after crude oil, more than gas or sugar.
We drink 500 billion cups of the stuff worldwide every year with Finland getting the dubious crown of most coffee per person, although the US wins overall.
And the good news is caffeine is not all bad for you.
This mild stimulant to the central nervous system is believed to have all sorts of benefits, including feeling of happiness and well-being and even a memory-booster.
Taken in small amounts, it can aid work and keep us alert.
Even the NHS agrees it’s fine in moderation and it plays a major role in hospitals across the land, for both patients, staff and visitors.
Both tea and coffee are sociable and now a cultural must-have.
For this reason, coffee shops, particularly large chains, have transformed the retail landscape of our cities and towns and provided somewhere else, other than a pub of restaurant, to chill and take a break – and a shot.
I’m a coffee addict and a happy one.