A few times (very few) over the course of my 5 year college career I resorted to drinking the stuff, and the experience was mixed. Yes, it helped keep me awake when I needed it... but it tastes like molten dirt, and it makes my armpits feel uncomfortably hot. With no caffeine tolerance (something I work very hard to maintain, even today), the slightest level of consumption feels like a mega-dose. I saved caffeine for those coup de grâce moments, when I really needed to overcome some academic or creative deadline.
For most of my college days (which are only a month behind me) I either deliberately abstained from caffeine out of some distorted puritan work ethic ("Caffeine is cheating! I've got to muscle through this!"), or downed an energy drink as an alternative.
I just don't like the taste. I, for some reason, prefer tasting Red Bull or Monster over something that normal people have been drinking since at least the 1600's... Tea is completely out of the question.
However, I think I've grown an appreciation for coffee at long last, and it's because I finally have a ritual. For one, I don't drink coffee at home, I only buy it out (which means I drink it rarely). Two, I order a medium coffee in a large cup, so that I have room to mix at least 1/3 of the concoction with soy milk. Three, I add a fuck ton of "natural" sugar while it's still piping hot. Four, I add the soymilk after the sugar, to ensure the sugar is properly caramelized and to bring the temperature down to a "kid safe" level (which is the only way I can drink it safely). More so than the beverage itself, I like having a way of making it.
I honestly wouldn't drink it if I had to drink it straight.
So what changed, if I still don't even like the flavor? For one, the above steps at least make it palatable. Though here's the sequence of events that brought me here:
- I am very epicurean about things like chocolate, fine whiskey, and sometimes wine. I like developing a palette for nuances, and some foodstuffs lend themselves to that attitude very well.
- Coffee is one of those things, so I figured eventually I'd grow to appreciate the stuff (It's probably strange that I love whiskey, yet hate coffee...but so it goes).
- I started waiting tables about two months ago, and now have to report to work at 6:30am at least three or four days a week.
- I have a diagnosed case of parasomnia, which is a fancy way of saying my body has no concept of a regular of predictable sleep schedule. Sleep for 14 hours? Stay awake for 30 hours? Sure!
- Whatever childish notions I had about "muscling through" my fatigue are now gone, because my survival instinct has kicked in: sometimes I simply have to make it through the day, and coffee is the only thing that'll work.
Maybe someday I'll be able to drink the stuff "raw," but for now that's not even a goal. These days it just tastes like a shit (with a hint of sugar and soymilk).