Thursday, 1 December 2011

I am Cornholio!

Beavis and Butthead fans will know that Beavis becomes the Great Cornholio when given caffeine. Those whose education is lacking in this department might want to quickly revise this piece of historic American heritage.

I have made the mistake, in the past, of firing up the espresso machine late at night and even attempts to lie down in the dark mean nothing after that. Now I restrict my espresso intake to, at the latest, early evening and am almost approaching normal people's hours. It does have an effect. That's undeniable.

I was not aware that pregnant women were advised not to drink too much caffeine. Perhaps that's not much of a surprise because it involves 'woman' and 'pregnant' and I have never knowingly been either. It seems they are indeed so advised, probably because their child risks being born with its caul pulled over its head and demanding T-P for its bunghole. A hyperactive newborn must be a terrible thing to behold and having given up caffeine completely once, I know there are real withdrawal effects which I have never experienced with smoking withdrawal. You wouldn't want a wide-awake high-speed newborn with a coffee habit.

Put me in an airport departure lounge, tell me the plane is delayed four hours and I can't smoke, and I'm okay. Tell me there's no caffeine and someone is going to lose body parts.

I like espresso. I don't currently have a working filter-coffee machine and if I get another one, it'll be cheap. My espresso machine is a Gaggia. No half measures for that one.

Some things in that article seemed odd to me. Not this part -

Researchers from Glasgow University bought single-shot espressos from 20 coffee shops in the city and measured their caffeine content. 

This is perfectly normal behaviour for scientists. Coffee is an important part of the scientific process and naturally we all want to know where to get the best stuff. The stuff that lets the day zoom by and might even, if we drink enough, let us live fast enough to exceed the speed of light and go back in time.

However, it occurred to me that if pregnant women were advised to limit their caffeine, then pregnant women would not be very likely to order espresso. That's like telling a beer drinker to cut down on alcohol so they switch to whisky.

The article helpfully points out that Starbuck's is low-octane diesel espresso and that the real hard stuff is to be found at a place called Patisserie Francoise, which I have never seen. It probably vibrates so fast it's just a blur.

Not a big surprise in the name there. I once spent a week in Marseille (in which I was mistaken for a hired killer, but more of that another time) and when I came home I could not find coffee strong enough.Caffeine appears to have no effect on the French at all unless they are all comatose without it.

The story has its call for regulation that all scientists have to demand now in order to get further grants, and its nonsense aspect too.

A study of other coffees such as lattes and cappuccinos is also warranted, he said, as they are often made from an even stronger espresso base. He added: ‘There is every possibility this applies to all coffee shop coffees and not just espresso and not just in Glasgow.’

No, those lattes and cappuccinos are  made with exactly the same espresso base. My machine has the milk-foaming spout and the coffee that goes in is the same (except mine is permanently set up for 'doppio'). It's just diluted into a pint mug's worth. If you drink a whole cardboard vat of coffee made by one of these shops it contains the same amount of caffeine as the espresso. The espresso is just a way of mainlining coffee without the foamy milk and the bursting urge to pee later.

But there was also a horrifying aspect to this story:

A spokesman for Starbucks said: ‘It is nothing new that caffeine is bad for pregnant women. We offer decaffeinated espressos in our stores.

AAAAAAAHHHH! Unleaded espresso? What?  What? Have we crossed into the Twilight Zone or something? Everyone knows espresso is the final destination of those who start on the Nescafe gateway drugs. We've already seen alcohol-free whisky and beer. We all have taps in the kitchen dispensing alcohol-free vodka. Almost nicotine-free smokes (remember Consulate and More?) and smoke-free nicotine in Electrofag.

What next? Drug-free cocaine? Carless driving? Trains with no rails? Come on. Decaff espresso is missing the point to the extent where the point is the size of a barn door and a sniper is aiming at it. It should be a point impossible to miss.

If you are advised to cut back on caffeine, don't drink espresso because nothing screams 'Concentrated Wakey Water' like a tiny cup with what appears to be an oil distillation residue in the bottom. It's not rocket science although most rocket scientists are fuelled by this stuff. Their mothers probably were too. The Italians designed Ferrari and Bugatti cars really fast while we British tea-drinkers were drawing Austin 1100's. A good espresso machine could have saved Vauxhall. Just imagine the Astra on speed.
 Patisserie Francoise was unable to comment.

Well, no, they were too busy demanding T-P while grinning, gibbering and trembling.

 Next time I'm in Glasgow, save me a seat in Patisserie Francoise. That's where the single-malt espresso lives.

Oh. And stand clear. I am Cornholio.


Frank Davis said...

Face it, Leggie.

You're just another desperate, miserable coffee addict.

Ordinary, decent people (like me) can go without coffee all their lives, no probs.

All we normal, decent, hard-working people need is tea and cigarettes.

JuliaM said...

I'm not listening to any 'expert' that the Beeb Radio wheels out who cannot pronounce espresso properly. There's no 'x' in it, FFS!!

Disclaimer: proud new owner of a Nescafe Docle Gusto Piccolo, on sale for £49.99 at Tesco last Saturday...

Anonymous said...

You don't need a machine to make good filter coffee. Just buy a filter funnel - mine cost less than a fiver - designed to take standard coffee filter papers and then use it in combination with an ordinary kettle for boiling the water.

Being a lapsed engineer, there's enough residual scientist in me to be properly CDO about the whole process. I weigh out the right amount of coffee & water to make a consistently perfect beverage. My senior management of 36 years scoffs, mostly because she doesn't understand that measuring volume, especially of a powder, is a poor substitute for mass and can lead to serious cases of overdose. Or, worse, underdose . . .

Mind you, I can skip the morning coffee ritual, but deprive me of tea for the rest of the day and life becomes even more unbearable for those around me.

Morning coffee, afternoon tea, Makes perfect sense.

Keep doing your thing, LI. You're a (mostly) like-minded voice that makes me think, perhaps, I'm not quite as mad as I'm supposed to be. And I am an ex-smoker.


sixtypoundsaweekcleaner said...

I had Russia Today on last night, whilst doing something else, so I was only half listening. But they were going on about obesity and how there has to be a fat tax and a tax on meat, 'cos you know, we all know don't we, that it is the cause of all the world's ills...

Nothing was said of course about how that same tax is just another way of the establishment to raise revenue.


Giolla Decair said...

"I know there are real withdrawal effects which I have never experienced with smoking withdrawal."

Ah you've fallen into the anti-caffeine brigades trap of being convinced that there are real effects of caffeine withdrawal, you'll be talking about second hand caffeine next :)

Which is perhaps just to say I went from a 12 espresso a day habit to no caffeine at all for over a month and didn't notice the slightest difference and no effect when I went back to coffee either. I was quite disappointed.

View from the Solent said...

"All we normal, decent, hard-working people need is tea and cigarettes. "

Frank, you are obviously addicted to the caffeine in tea.
First they came for the coffee-drinkers, ...

Furor Teutonicus said...

But have they researched the dangers of second hand Caffien inhalation?

I don't understand all this fuss over coffee..... But then I once took speed at a party and proceeded to sleep for four hours.

Robert the Biker said...

Speaking of Ferrari and Bugatti,they must have had one of those in Jaguar, Aston Martin and Bristols works, back in the day when they produced barely road legal race cars for LeMans. Maybe we should club together and install some now to wake the buggers up.

nominedeus said...

I know where youre comin from..oops there he goes...wenting to LI, I too have the caffeeeeeeiine habit, normally I am ok on a maintainence dosage but goin to Uni has that one all screwed to really they do do good coffee but theres a difference in each persons way of packing the fecking thing that can mean the difference between being able to sit and listen to the lecture or hauling a soapbox out of somewhere there wasnt one and giving some serious re-education to all and sundry.... and if I have 3 in the day (all double shot then the rest of my day and evening are pretty much a....ahaaa...another blog post of course thats where the habits come from...Ok! got it now...

wv is believe it or not Anti n sup

friction-free sex said...

my god, this article and its entrails is rudley reminiscent of one of those coffee mornings one was forced to attend (with-mother) as a toddler - i needed a pint of super-natural friggin' expresso to claw my way to the fucking end of it.

but as we're on the i'm not a caffeinaddict - for normal purposes, lidl golden granarized is fine for me, thank you. however, i do remember once visiting an acquaintance, someplace out in the styx of kent, like sittingbourne, who accomplished the amazing feat of growing nearly six-inches within the space of about a week...and although the breakfast she served me was tasty, she effectively restricted me to a few mere mouthfuls of grub washed down with the fall-out produced by a expresso machine which i myself was coerced into installing and goes without saying that i got the measures all pop-eyed and, tripping on the light fantastic of an empty stomach, nearly succumbed to a life-changing overdose of uncut brown-stuff, before making my excuses and catching the train home under the illusion that i was taking part in a contemporary re-enactment of the psychedelic tram episode in ant and bee. needless-to-say, i never went there again.

sardine suppersition (by slobspeak) said...


But they were going on about obesity and how there has to be a fat tax and a tax on meat, 'cos you know, we all know don't we, that it is the cause of all the world's ills...

well it does contibute to overcrowding, dunnit?

blands hatch posterior prescriptions plc said...


...and a cadbury's cream egg-sized caffeine suppository for mr cameron might help kick-start an economic recovery too.

ersatz enhancer said...


complete fantasy - i doubt whether you've ever bean to university, my little coffee-cup...although your habit may account for an almost 100 per cent phantom attendance of lectures at the school of disoriented and freaking studies.

Kynon said...

I am told I can do a pretty mean impression of Cornholio if the mood takes me!

wv: flashbam - strikes me as appropriate!

nominedeus said...

At and still attending satz, sorry to disillusion you, never mind I can understand your problem, but considering yourself a 'replacement' or substitute' really will not do your self image to much good...buck up and have a REAL espresso it might even get enough of your braincells stimulated to get YOU to Uni! You can live in hope...

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