Like anything else, coffee trends are cyclical. When Starbucks and Biggby were coming of age in the late 90s and early 2000s, an espresso was probably the hip drink of the day. We moved to iced coffee following the espresso craze. I didn’t start drinking coffee until the tail end of my college career so the statement that espresso was hip back then is a flat out guess. But now we’re onto something entirely different in cold brew. Cold brew, for those of you who do not know any better, is not iced coffee. It is brewed cold and never heated up whereas iced coffee is brewed normally and then cooled down. It has a very distinct flavor that a regular cup of coffee does not have. Cold brew is twice as caffeinated as regular coffee, and I for one, simply cannot handle it anymore.
It was fun while it lasted. It really was. It was love at first sip. But I knew the moment I ordered my first ever cold brew at my local Starbucks that this was going to be a sordid love affair. Drinking something this good, this flavorful, and this caffeinated is not sustainable. And like anything possessing addictive qualities, once you get a taste, you keep coming back for more.
The only way to feel like you’re truly on the up and up is to continue adding to your dosage. You search everywhere for that high you felt the first time you tried it. It’s a mystical chase for a dragon that you’re never going to catch. So for me, what at first was a tall cold brew on special occasions very soon became a venti cold brew every other day. But ordering a venti cold brew wasn’t enough. It was never going to fully satiate my bloodlust. Oh, no, after a few weeks of drinking thirty ounces of cold coffee, I needed the venti with a shot of espresso added. And just like that, I recognized that I had a problem.
I was beginning to feel as though I couldn’t function without the frothy, cold beverage. No longer could I go a single morning at work without getting one. I had become dependent on cold brew, and much like a junkie needs his fix just to get the day going, I needed mine that came in the form of a 24-ounce cup with my name on it.
I became what I loathed and relentlessly made fun of: a Starbucks regular. I’d roll in right around 7:40 every morning to the same Starbucks and the baristas would already know what I wanted. I had a rewards card, I no longer had to tell them my name, and I left the coffee shop every morning with a shit eating grin on my face. I would lay in bed each night following my morning trip and look forward to the next time I would get to order a cold brew. And look, if you haven’t had one, I highly suggest trying it out next time you’re craving a coffee. Just try not to make it a habitual thing.
I had to quit drinking it altogether. I went cold turkey. And I won’t try and sugarcoat it: it wasn’t easy. Going back to Keurig cups at work and Folgers on the weekend at home has been huge in my quest to save money, and yeah it tastes awful when you compare it to a delicious cold brew from Starbucks or another coffee shop of the same ilk. But if I’m being honest with myself there is no rational reason for me to be drinking something like cold brew that is absolutely loaded with caffeine. I don’t want my heart to stop just for a couple extra doses of caffeine. Do I miss it? Hell yes, I miss it. But I can’t go back down that cold brew rabbit hole. It’s too expensive, too caffeinated, too dangerous. If you’re not careful, you could wind up spending 30, 40 dollars a month like I was on coffee and I don’t want to see that happen. Try it at your own risk. .