The Writing Life (9) A Third Place

I’ve given up coffee.

From three short kick-ass double espressos to none, and this for a month now.

Photo Credit: Tom Sandler

I know quite a bit about addiction—to drugs, of course; to sex, were I enough of a celebrity for my routine fantasies to be the stuff of scandal, get reported, and have me heading off to the clinic all contrite; to massage therapy, bogus treatments that I have mostly given up on (spas, in particular, being the great con job of our time, along with the pretence that sushi is actually a meal)—and, of course, to coffee.

I tell you, the withdrawal was something. It existed, for a start. I was crabby for a good ten days, the length of my legs ached and my head too. For a week I had so little to say about anything that my wife, Sarah, declared more than once that she preferred the caffeinated me—the one prone to rages concerning the news, considerable moodiness, and who was unable, ever, to sleep the night through.

In time, I’m sure, I’ll discover that most of these symptoms are not related to coffee withdrawal, though in truth they had little to do with my quitting anyway. Yes, my going cold turkey (well, tepid tea in fact, but you know what I mean) was more of an anti-corporate thing. It was the consequence of a sudden, growing and irrepressible dissatisfaction with how coffee was being sold to me, and an agitated awareness of just how much money was being made off the lemming procession of myself and billions of others into coffee shops for the sake of a habit that long ago became automatic. I’ll drink the stuff again but according to the principles of the impossible 100-mile diet, I’ll reserve my next for Mexico, perhaps, though more likely Italy. (The beans aren’t from there, but espresso is their invention and surely qualifies.)

Noah Richler is a writer and broadcaster. His book, This is My Country, What’s Yours? A Literary Atlas of Canada won the 2007 B.C. Award for Canadian Non-Fiction. He blogs for Wordfest and his column,“The Writing Life,” appears here and on


1 Comment

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One response to “The Writing Life (9) A Third Place

  1. Katherine

    I can’t believe you did that.

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