‘No coffee, no prana (life energy)’, Ashtanga yoga’s founder Pattabhi Jois famously said, and apparently in the very early Mysore days, when yoga was still some weird Indian fad (can anyone even remember that?), Guruji’s wife would stick her head into the yoga room after practice and ask: ‘Coffee now, OK?’
See, and this is where the problem starts. If you’re into Ayurveda you’ll be made aware by your doctor that coffee, well, coffee just isn’t for you. Nor is it for anyone else, in fact. If you have an Ayurvedic practitioner who is firmly rooted in this world and refrains from demanding supernatural things from his patients (such as giving up coffee), he’ll add: ‘If you must take coffee, take with milk. A lot of milk. And cinnamon.’ Apparently this will make handling coffee easier for the body, but my feeling is rather the reverse – my body is actually going through hell without caffeine. ‘How many you take every day?’, he enquired. ‘Oh, certainly not more than two!’ (I will need to deal with the karmic consequences of this blatant lie.)
But isn’t there ample evidence supporting the health benefits of coffee? Studies show that caffeine boosts performance, improves circulation, reduces the (perceived) muscle pain, and enhances memory for up to 24hrs after it’s been consumed. I mean, wow. Quite a feat for a substance they sell legally at every corner shop. Researchers point out one thing though: Be regular in your intake to allow your body to adjust.
For most of us with our busy lifestyles there is only one solution: Take away coffee. And see, this is where I have another massive issue with coffee. No, it’s not the coffee. It’s the take away cups. Ever wandered past a coffee shop in the evening, on your way back home from work? These shops almost block the sidewalk with their huge plastic bags of discarded cups. And these are just the ones used in-store, not even the ones that were actually ‘taken away’. I mean, they put these bags out every day? But then, who has time to sit down and enjoy their coffee, every single time the caffeine craving kicks in?
When I moved to Melbourne two years ago I came across a solution that’s so obvious and straight forward, it’s one of the things that makes you wonder ‘why has no one thought of this before?‘: The Keep Cup. It’s as easy as the name suggests: You bring your own cup, and you keep it – means, you reuse it. Every single time. For me, that’s saved about 3 take away cups a day, Monday to Friday, so that’s 15 each week, and a stunning total of 795 take away cups each year!
When I travelled back to England about a year ago I was pleased to find them on the shelves of my local Whole Foods – apparently it’s a concept that keeps gaining traction, and it all started in a Melbourne café back in 2008 with the desire to reduce waste. Take this in: Globally, every minute one million disposable cups are discarded to landfill. One million? And there are still coffee shops that won’t even ask you ‘have here, or take away?’ because it’s easier to throw out plastic cups than to bother cleaning ceramic ones.
I’ve been using my plastic Keep Cup for about two years now and was pleased to see that there’s a new glass range. Because the most surprising thing about how I use the cup is that I also use it on weekends, at home. Since I listen to my Ayurvedic doctor and add heaps of milk, the coffee tends to get a film as I’m a slow drinker – but not with a closed lid!
I know I’m only reducing the one million cups a minute by a tiny fraction, but then, isn’t that already a good start?
You can get (and design) your Keep Cup here, there’s a myriad of colours and 5 sizes (from espresso to mug sized) available; companies can even offer Keep Cups to employees with the company’s logo on the banderole. If you need more to be convinced, there’s a Fact Sheet here (did you know there’s enough plastic in 20 disposable cups to make one Keep Cup?) and you can calculate your impact here.
How do you have your take away coffee? Do you have a re-usable cup? I’d love to hear your thoughts!