Hi, my name is Niki and I'm a caffeine addict. It's been 37 days since my last coffee <insert your polite applause>
Why on earth would a caff-head like me go for more than a month without coffee? Technically speaking the waste is minimal if you buy in bulk and compost the grounds, so why deprive myself?! Going almost zero has really changed the way I look at things, and ideas like virtual water are helping me do it.
The virtual water concept was developed by a geographer by the name of John Anthony Allan. It basically crunches the numbers on the embedded water in things (that's the water used in production, manufacture, transport etc) and his method determined that it takes about 200 litres of water to make the average takeaway latte. Using your own cup only brings this figure down to around 140 litres. So despite all my efforts to reduce waste by bringing my reusable cup or drinking my coffee at home, the impact of the contents of a single cup of coffee are still significant. Before my break I was having one cup of coffee a day. Full disclosure... it was a double shot and I would run the water through the basket til that bad boy almost ran clear, so technically maybe more like a quadruple shot. In virtual water terms, I was using more than 500 litres of water for one cup of coffee!!
Lately I've been thinking a lot about wants versus needs and let's face it, I don't need coffee, so I decided to take a break - cue the headaches, crankiness and a constant yearning for that little something-something. I found solace in my teapot instead (in case you were wondering, tea's virtual water count is 35 litres per cup) and after a week I felt ok, borderline functional in fact. As each day has passed I've noticed it's easier to get to sleep, when I wake up I don't feel like a morning-zombie and I don't have a mid-afternoon crash either.
So I'm abstaining, for now, but I 'm not quite ready to put any hard and fast rules around this break. I'm pretty sure if, ahh let's face it, when I return to my golden-mistress, rather than being a permanent part of my morning ritual her liquid gold will be a special treat. Knowing more about the resources needed to make my coffee has given me a new appreciation for it, but for now I'm pretty happy drinking tea.
Allan, John A. "Virtual water: a strategic resource." Ground water 36, no. 4 (1998): 545-547.
Allan, John Antony. "Virtual water-the water, food, and trade nexus. Useful concept or misleading metaphor?." Water international 28, no. 1 (2003): 106-113.