A series exploring the props, habits, and drugs that fuel the writer’s productivity. Past, present and future! This week, we discuss why coffee is the Food of the Gods, closely followed in this exulted position by chocolate and green tea.
So do you mean habits or rituals?
When I was a child, my mother would open the magical can of Juan Valdez’s finest, pure Colombian coffee. I would insist on sniffing the scoop of fresh grounds before she made the pot. I knew nothing about coffee except that it smelled divine, and that my parents loved it and drank it straight up. Hidden calories, my Dad would say with a shake of his head. Sugar and cream will get you in trouble. If you like coffee, don’t put anything in it.
Always having a hot beverage at my side as I started writing?
But it seemed that it was not to be. Coffee straight up, whether brewed in a coffee shop or at work, seemed to make me sick. Even half with cream was no guarantee of success. This was not fair! I felt like the kitten in “Space Time for Springer” — coffee would make me an adult human! Had I been cut from the herd? What was the problem?
My coffee-loving friends shook their heads sadly. My boyfriend did not understand this thing I had with this bitter drink. Instead I cultivated a ritual for teas, both true and tisanes, my familiar cup at my side as I wrote. Indeed, saffra in my Nualan books was inspired by Celestial Seasonings’ Red Zinger. The Nualans were refugees, cast upon their world with no coffee or tea plants. They had no chocolate plants! Half their battle to become spacefaring once again was probably to get their hands on coffee, tea, and chocolate plants.
But in the back of my mind, as I wrestled with Life Interrupted, taking me further from coffee and good Earl Grey and even fine green tea, I was determined to make my way back to the Real Stuff. And as I conquered other challenges, I discovered something important. It was not blessed coffee, tea, or chocolate that was making me ill.
It was contaminants.
And so I went forth, learning what to search for that would not make me ill. Finding out how to get the Really Good Stuff, as far as uncontaminated went, is a story in itself. The important part of that story is, if you want your creative brain firing at supersonic levels, you need to figure out what high quality Food of the Gods works for you.
In my case, it’s…drum roll please…single origin, high altitude, wet process Central American coffee beans, which I then grind myself. (Yes…I have become a coffee snob for health and creativity reasons. It can happen to anyone.) In a pinch I also use organic Japanese green tea or 70% gluten and milk free chocolate. Then I add to that coffee or tea…butter. Irish Butter. My current addiction is Kerrygold, but I am sure there are other great brands of butter from grass-fed cows. Here in the US, all the American brands I can find are salted. (Americans like salted butter.) Guess what? When you cut back to the wall on added salt, you discover that good butter and beef naturally have a lot of salt! Plus, added salt in coffee=yuck.
Then the ritual starts. Add extra virgin, organic, unprocessed coconut oil or MCT oil into the blessed fluid. Stir until things are nicely mixed, and drink.
Once a day. It’s Ritual. It starts my brain. It feeds my soul. And thank the heavens for that Japanese tea, because my doctor doesn’t want me drinking coffee right now for boring reasons.
But soon. Because Ritual is healing on so many levels. And my characters want my butt back in that chair. (Sorry, Dad — I traded gluten for butter. No regrets!) I buy my outstanding coffee beans at Third Coast Coffee here in the Texas Hill Country (currently Nicaraguan beans) but here’s how to find them in your city. Write on!