Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 2, 2007

Every morning ó and most afternoons, too ó the Post’s managing editor bursts into the newsroom carrying a venti bold Starbucks coffee. He swears there’s no extra espresso shots in it, although when pressed admits he’s added them a time or two.
There’s a growing stack of venti (that’s large) cups on his desk. One of our photographers crafted his own coffee mugs on a pottery wheel, which holds at least two good-sized cups of java. He sets it on his console when he drives to assignments and it never, ever moves.
No doubt, Americans love their coffee. What they really crave, though, is the caffeine.
Our esteemed editor admits to stumbling to the fridge every morning for her first Diet Coke of the day.
Caffeine reigns as Americans’ favorite legal drug of choice. With a Starbucks on every corner these days ó or Port City Java or Spenzanelli’s ó we can’t get enough of it. Try to quit and see what happens: the dreaded withdrawal headaches. Which only leads us to start popping caffeine-laced Excedrin.
According to a recent issue of Newsweek, a U.S. Army Ranger couldn’t get enough caffeine in his coffee.
“Sleep is a crutch,” the Rangers believe. So he came up with a blend that’s “hypercaffeinated,” containing double the blend of regular coffee. Most Ranger Coffee is shipped overseas to soldiers in Iraq.
OK, that makes sense.
But what about the rest of us on the homefront, slogging away in the trenches … or the cubicles?
We gotta have our caffeine fix, too. And not just in coffee.
Diet Coke is marketing itself these days as a breakfast drink ó or perhaps just breakfast.
Newsweek says that those energy drinks favored by young celebs (oh sure, that’s what they’re drinking …) have grown in sales tenfold in the past six years. Diet Pepsi, Jolt and Mountain Dew all now offer extra-caffeinated products. There’s even caffeinated soap (but please don’t tell our managing editor).
What does all this mean? Why must we constantly be consuming caffeine?
Newsweek says we are drinking more caffeine and sleeping less.
Well, duh. Who can sleep with such a massive buzz?
Did you happen to catch the snippet on CNN last week about the guy who hit all of New York City’s 171 Starbucks in one day? Comedian/filmmaker Mark Malkoff made a short film chronicling this strange quest. He hit a Starbucks every seven minutes ó and made purchases totalling $369.14 ó for more than 20 hours straight. Bloggers were not impressed, but Malkoff, still wild-eyed after the June 29 event, was proud of his dubious achievement.
Only in America.
Is it that we’re so frazzled we’ve got to have our coffee, or is it the coffee that’s making us frazzled in the first place? It’s a vicious cycle, but one we’re quite willing to ride to make it through the day and complete all of our working and shopping and ferrying children from place to place.
It’s too much to contemplate so early in the morning.
Anybody headed to Starbucks, by any chance?

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