When I first became a member of the northern rivers residents’ club, I found myself wide awake at 5am every day. At the time I ignored the fact.
I’d sit on an old cane rocking chair and rev it up to a rock that only Mick Jagger could move to.
This wasn’t a sleep disorder, or the upshot of a colicky newborn (with five kids, I surely know the difference). No, it was the result of a deep addiction to inner-city coffee and I was soon looking for an early opener for a quick fix.
Thirty years living in the inner west of Sydney had me decidedly hooked on the brown bean. I’d watched the small peninsula of Balmain and surrounding suburbs from a cafe seat, while chronic ‘renos’ and up-market caffeine joints had me playing musical chairs.
Like Goldilocks and her fussy oat habit, I’d look at the brew served me and I’d find myself thinking ‘too cold’… ’too strong’… ’not silky enough’ and rarely… ’just right’.
The ensuing influx of the young and wealthy to my rustic working-class suburb was taking its toll. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against successful folk, it’s just the way some of them slurp up the atmosphere and the coffee with a special superiority.
Anyhow, it had me move far away where the grid-locked sports cars couldn’t run me down.
Coffee addiction is real and living comfortably in a bloodstream near you. It’s a wild ride, albeit one that exists entirely in your own veins. Like an overbearing judging panel on a TV food show, the caffeine zombie goes forth, picking over the grounds of every little cafe, reporting back to locals over slow weekend dinner parties.
All-in-all, I’m envious of those who can sleep in on a Sunday morning. Maybe it’s time to ‘detox’, I tell myself; book into a rehab, drink chai and leave the brave new cafe owners to convert the next generation of caffeinated sleepwalkers – alas, I’m up again next morning at 5am in my wicked old rocker.
* Next week we’ll feature a short list of early-opener cafes and have a good squiz at the local coffee growers and roasters that are surrounding us.