May 27, 2015

Help! I’m addicted to cafés

Over the last 15 years or so, the introduction of fresh roasted coffee, latte art, single origins and restaurant quality food has created A new disorder among society and with more and more establishments opening in this model, it only looks to propagate further.

So what is it about these places that have slowly but surely slipped into society and disrupted people’s lives? This is an account from “Jeff,” a regular guy in his mid 30s who, like thousands of others, has been swept up in the latest trend of Specialty Coffee Shops.
Confessions of a Café Addict
I still remember the first time a friend invited me for coffee. Before then, having coffee would be to put on the kettle and crack open a packet of Arnotts Assorted. She said, “There’s this new place that has just opened and I want to check it out.” That was six years ago, and the biscuits are still in the cupboard.
I didn’t know what to expect. On our way there my friend kept talking about this place and how awesome it sounded. She talked about the photos she had seen on her “insta” something, and that it had great ratings. I just kept thinking to myself, it’s just coffee. What’s the big deal?
We arrived, and the place was buzzing. What was going on here? The sheer number of people who were sitting drinking coffee was astounding. I really felt out of place, but my friend reassured me it was OK. Our coffees arrived and the barista started to talk about the coffee. I had no idea what they were going on about; I just wanted to drink it.
After the first sip, I was hooked; it was difficult ce by providing coffee and brewing equipmto explain, but I’d never experienced anything like it.
What started off as just an innocent catch up with a friend was about to turn into something far more sinister.
Even after we left, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I wanted more. When my friend said that there are other different types of coffees and different ways to drink, it I just had to go back.
What I now know is that I had experienced what baristas call my first REAL coffee or “Point of no Return”. And, like all other addictions, I would require more of IT to bring back that euphoria of my first experience, and so the downward spiral started.
At first it was just a recreational thing. I would wait for the weekend to catch up with my friend and we would go and check out other places and what they had to offer. But after a while I found I just couldn’t wait ’til the weekend. I started to change my way to and from work just so I could grab a coffee from one of these types of establishments. So cool.
Dr. Ris Tretto from the “Personal and Behavioural Disorder Research Centre” has seen many cases such as Jeff’s.
“Jeff is displaying classic traits of substance dependency. What’s fascinating about these cases is that it’s not just the coffee but rather the whole experience or ‘transaction’, if you will. The baristas working in these establishments create a very seductive environment. Their level of professionalism and expertise with their craft is exceptional, making the customer feel very welcome and special. What’s impressive is their ability to do this with not just a couple of people but hundreds every day. It’s quite impressive,” said Dr Ris.
“With skilled and knowledgeable baristas on hand, specialty coffee shops are able to groom their clientele through education and passion. Customers like Jeff would be exposed to different varieties, grades and styles to consume, further facilitating their chase for the next experience. Certain establishments also continue this experienent for home.”
Once I started to make my own coffee at home, that’s when things really started to spiral out of control. I was remodelling the kitchen to fit all my brewing gear, I was lying to my partner about the amount of my money I was spending, and I was even selling belongings to be able to afford the rare geisha varietals. It was only when friends stopped wanting to catch up with me for coffee that I knew I needed help.
And so what I experienced was the bittersweet irony of specialty coffee. What initially started off as social had now become antisocial.
Fortunately, there is hope. Organisations such as “Cafe Snobs Anonymous” (CSA) are helping people to learn to control their dependency, and it’s been really good for me. The guys at CSA are super supportive, and a lot of them are recovering Café Snobs themselves.
So, if you feel like you or a friend may be a café addict, there are some telltale signs to look out for.
1.  You’re social media becomes nothing but photos of coffee and food.
2. You follow more cafés and baristas on social media than anyone else.
3. You start a coffee/food blog.
4. If you only had enough money for coffee or toilet paper, you would choose the coffee.
5. You serve meals at home either on a board or slate and drink out of old recycled jars.
6. You can’t eat anything unless it’s garnished with rocket.
7. You have your favourite baristas’ birthdays in your calendar.
About the Author:
Luke Shilling has been working in the coffee industry for 15 years as a barista, trainer and consultant. Luke has owned and managed cafés and espresso bars including until recently, the very successful Ltd espresso + brew bar in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. Well known for his satirical and tragicomedic wit, Luke offers a light hearted take on café society that is sometimes just a little too serious.

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