12 Nov Coffee and Smoking
Drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes has been a popular combination ever since coffee and smoking were invented. The two go hand in hand with each other and create a mysterious sensation that brings 10 minutes of calm to our otherwise chaotic life’s.
It offers a short period of time where we can think about nothing and just enjoy the brief suspension from the hundreds of things that permanently run through your mind.
I started drinking coffee on a daily basis when I was 16 and I began smoking at the same time.
A lot of my friends had started smoking a few years earlier but I had resisted until one day on a freezing cold train platform, a friend of mine who was smoking a cigarette persuaded me that smoking helped to keep you warm.
I decided to give it a go and whilst it certainly didn’t keep me warm it was the beginning of a 25-year relationship with smoking and coffee.
The number of years that I spent smoking was without a doubt extended beyond what it would have taken to give up because of the way that the coffee and tobacco somehow mixes together to create an experience that when combined is much better than the individual acts of drinking a cup of coffee or smoking a cigarette.
If you smoke and you drink coffee you will know you’ll know that doing both together is much better than doing each one separately.
But why? What is it that makes doing both together better than on their own?
I can explain why from my perspective and perhaps it may ring a bell with you.
My coffee and smoking story
I smoked in total for 25 years. At the beginning in the mid 1980’s you could pretty much smoke anywhere.
Even the London underground had designated smoking carriages at that time. There were cigarette butts all over the carriage floor and the entire carriage was filled in a permanent smoke-filled haze.
Although I was oblivious to it at the time, I must have smelt absolutely disgusting.
It wasn’t until 1987 after the Kings Cross underground fire that killed 31 people that smoking was banned permanently on the entire underground system.
It somehow felt like that was the beginning of smoking being phased out in public places.
I remember one of my first office jobs in the mid 1980’s where the guy opposite me smoked 20 Marlboro red during every working day. In order to get through the whole pack between 9 am and 5 pm he pretty much had one on the go the whole time.
When he exhaled he blew it all over me. I didn’t care because it was the accepted norm in the work environment and I had just taken up smoking anyway so I joined in.
If you were a non-smoker then you pretty much had smoke blown all over you for most of the day.
In those days you could also smoke on aeroplanes although there was a smoking and non-smoking section but if you happened to be at the back of the non-smoking section then you would get smoke blown over you from the people in the first row of the smoking section because the division was nothing more than a flimsy curtain.
Later in the early 1990’s my employer at that time had banned smoking at individual desks but you could still smoke freely in the canteen so at lunchtime all the non-smokers had plenty of second-hand cigarette smoke to go with their sandwiches.
Eventually at the end of the 1990’s, most responsible employers had banned smoking in the buildings and areas where non-smokers could be impacted by their second-hand smoke against their will.
The time had long passed where there was any dispute as to whether smoking was terrible for you and so you could argue that it took a lot longer than it should have to stop smokers affecting the health of non-smokers in the working environment but it was what it was and by the beginning of the new century you could pretty much be assured of a smoke free environment at work.
But in pubs and clubs and restaurants smoking was still allowed and there was no actual law that said you couldn’t smoke. So if the establishment you went into allowed smoking then at the beginning of the 2000’s you could still mix smoking with non-smokers.
Then on July 1st 2007, it was the big one. Smoking was banned by law in all enclosed public places in England so all of a sudden if you ordered a coffee in a restaurant you couldn’t have a cigarette with it. Up until that point I had taken it for granted but when all of a sudden, I couldn’t do it, it was a very big deal indeed.
The reason for the history lesson on the transition to smoking being banned in public places is because, for me, smoking being banned in all enclosed public places had a direct impact on the enjoyment I got from it and it eventually led to it being a big factor in me giving up smoking completely.
All of a sudden you had to go outside if you wanted a cigarette. Drinking my coffee after dinner and then going outside for a cigarette was not only far less enjoyable but it actually became something that I hated doing.
For a big chunk of the year in London, the weather conditions are not conducive to standing outside and enjoying a cigarette. When it’s cold and raining and windy who wants to stand outside and grab a quick nicotine fix and puff away as quickly as possible so you can get back inside.
Smoking with a coffee when I was out all of a sudden became unpleasant because I couldn’t do them both at the same time and the cigarette part was horrible.
It also made me feel like a bit of an outcast. A smoker are you? Off you go outside if you want to practice the black art of tobacco smoking. We disapprove of that in here.
That went on for about 5 years before it finally hit me that I was no longer enjoying smoking anywhere near as much as I used to because I got a huge amount of enjoyment from drinking coffee and smoking at the same time but I couldn’t do that anymore and so I started to think about giving up. Easier said than done of course but after it playing on my mind, I decided that enough was enough.
Giving up smoking but drinking more coffee
This is not an article about giving up smoking. I’m well aware that it’s a hugely complex issue that is a totally different challenge for each individual person that decides they want to pack it in.
Some people find it much more difficult than others and there are many different ways to tackle it that are outside the scope of this article.
My mother has smoked a packet a day for 50 years and has tried unsuccessfully to give up on a number of occasions.
I guess I got lucky because when I decided it was time, I went cold turkey and managed to stop the first time.
For the first 2 days, the physical addiction to the nicotine was a huge challenge and the craving to smoke was immense, my body was crying out for it.
But that only lasted for 2 days and after that, the true challenge began. Breaking a habit of 25 years. The physical addiction literally goes away after a couple of days but the routine of doing the same thing every single day for several decades took me about 6 months to get over.
Every single day when I got to work I would make a coffee and go outside with it and have a cigarette.
Every day after I’d eaten lunch I would go for a cigarette and the same after dinner.
All of a sudden, I couldn’t do that. Because I had done it for so long it was automatically something I would do in my subconscious.
At the beginning, I would sometimes find myself with coffee in hand walking towards the exit on the way out to have a cigarette and then my conscious mind would kick in and ask myself where I was going. When I realised that I couldn’t smoke there was an internal pain in my stomach that was difficult to deal with.
Breaking the habit of not “going for a cigarette” was much harder than not actually smoking a cigarette.
That’s the bad news but there ended up being a lot more good than bad from not being able to smoke with my coffee.
Until I actually gave up I didn’t realise how much smoking suppresses your taste buds. All of a sudden coffee tasted 10 times better than it ever did before and so after doing a bit of research to make sure that it was ok to drink loads of coffee, I went from drinking 2-3 cups of coffee daily to 6-8.
What I decided to do was to substitute my cigarettes with more coffee. It was around that time that the coffee shop explosion took place and there was literally either a Starbucks, Café Nero or Costa on every corner.
I ended up getting more enjoyment from drinking more coffee and giving up cigarettes than I ever did from drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes together.
After a while, I realised that I was spending a fortune on coffee at £3 a go in the coffee shops (not as much as I was spending on cigarettes).
When I added it up it came to between £100 and £150 a month and I was restricted to drinking whatever the house blend was.
I then discovered a whole different world of coffee out there with different varieties and roast types and because I wasn’t smoking anymore the extra enjoyment that I was getting from coffee was huge.
I then took to looking at how I could enjoy coffee even more and explored all of the different brewing methods and found that I could make better coffee than the coffee shops at a far lower price.
Here are some links to articles that will help you to explore all the different ways to get maximum enjoyment from coffee whether you smoke or not:
So for me, I managed to replace cigarettes with more coffee and I have never looked back.