The drug of choice

disposable coffee cup - Yam Amir

I love the number of people who denounce drug use – and users – with caustic contempt but who can’t wait to get their next cup of coffee. Hypocrisy is such satisfying self-deception.

This thought is occasioned by the phenomenal uptake of coffee as the daily drug of choice for a vast segment of Australian society over the past two decades

The United States has long been a global trailblazer for caffeine addiction with cinematic portrayal of Americans’ love of coffee going back many decades. Who can forget imagery of tough-as-rawhide cowboys sloshing campfire-brewed aluminium pannikins of coffee with vast herds of cattle lowing in the background? It was an indelible icon of popular culture for baby boomers and their successors.

But it has been astounding to watch a nation like Australia – which initially favoured tea as a hand-me-down of our British forebears – turn to coffee at an exceptional rate over the past ten years or so.

Coffee shops have flourished faster than pimples on the face of a lolly-scoffing male teenager. Sidewalk traffic in cities has now become a rat race as tables, chairs and coffee-branded umbrellas delineate a morning, lunch and evening obstacle course. Seems the more we consume, the faster we can navigate.

There are many facets of this trend but consumerist waste is one that doesn’t get a whole lot of attention. Could anyone imagine the total number of disposable cups and lids purchased and discarded around the globe in any one 24-hour period? It would be a number almost beyond comprehension.

Some will say things have improved with recyclable materials used in the manufacture of many of these disposable cups. But consider the energy and raw materials that go into the making of them.

And consider, too, just what proportion of that unimaginable number of daily disposals never gets recycled and ends up in landfills.

And if that despoliation of the environment makes your heart beat faster, can you be sure it’s not just the after effects of your last cup of coffee?

Better have another short black to settle the nerves.

Image:  Yam Amir