It starts innocently enough. Just a quick cup of coffee to start the day. Something hot to swig between spoons of cereal. Nothing more than an accessory to orange juice. But before you know it you're in a rapidly gentrifying corner of town scoring a kilo of beans from a toothpick-thin dealer whose hands can't stop shaking and who swears that this is the purest bag you can buy. Uncut. Single origin.
Coffee obsession is a real thing. And these are the 15 signs you're one shot away from just percolating to becoming a full-blown caff-fiend.
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You've tried green tea and mate and the Clockwork Orange Ludovico treatment, but nothing can tear you away from your girl, which is your affectionate nickname for the coffee mug that had you at hello and completes you and all of that romantic stuff, but still knows how to get nasty every once in awhile. You know this because you keep drinking the day-old coffee remnants she holds for you overnight.
Your sleep schedule is shattered
Good luck putting down your head before midnight, unless you skip your afternoon cup and are sleeping like a baby by 7pm.
Your teeth are disgusting
No, that isn't a gold grill that you bought for cheap from a down-and-out member of the St. Lounatics: those are just your prospector nugget-looking incisors that eat prescription whitening strips for breakfast.
Your wallet is packed with punch cards
That elusive free cup of coffee is even more of a prize when you're working on 10 different punch cards at once. Also, you're developing back problems from that George Costanza wallet.
You often talk about your favorite coffee-producing country
You've really jumped over the edge when you only drink naturally processed Kenyans because you want your coffee to taste like ripe tomatoes, and don't mind telling everybody about it whenever possible.
You worry about water filtration
Coffee is 99% water, you say to yourself as you add to your Amazon wish list a filter so powerful that it can make a sewer taste like a mountain spring so untouched you can't even find it on Google Maps.
You're a one-man tourism bureau for local coffee shops
Not only do you know all the local shops, but also what coffee beans they're serving, the preparation methods, the color of their mugs, the attractiveness of the clientele, fire escape routes, seats with the best light during midday, and which tables are wobbly (all of them!). You also have each and every Wi-Fi code memorized.
You've spent a ridiculous amount of money on a kettle
You swear that the smooth pour of a goose-neck spout is worth as much as an SNES circa 1993.
You don't wear white shirts anymore
Let's be real, with the numbers of sips of brown caffeine water going into your system every day, there will be some missed connections. That's not even accounting for transportation issues. Too many oxfords have fallen victim to a loose slosh of coffee to justify the cleaning cost or the shame of walking around the office looking like you had a tie-dye party at a sewage treatment plant.
You own more coffee makers than you've cooked hot meals in the last month
Mugs slide around your floorboard like hockey pucks until they get stuck in the swamp of disposable coffee cups whose cardboard sleeves are forming a nice composting pile as well as growing a mold ecosystem whose musk you've actually come to enjoy due to its subtle hints of stone fruit.
You take your own gear when traveling
Who needs more than one pair of underwear in a weekend bag when you've got a portable grinder, an AeroPress, a scale, a 12oz bag of local beans, and a goose-neck kettle?
You are on a first-name basis with your local baristas
You're basically the Norm to the Sam Malones at every single coffee shop in town. They all know who you are, but not in a good way.
You judge other people's habits
When you see someone move a mug of diner coffee to their lips, your instinct is to slap their hand as if they're about to ingest a mouthful of poison whose only antidote is a single-origin shot of espresso.
Coffee ice cream is the only ice cream
Vanilla and chocolate and butter pecan can all go suck beans. In fact, you are eating a bowl of coffee ice cream right now. Reading this article silently. Unable to sleep. Might as well make some coffee.
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Dan Gentile is a staff writer at Thrillist. He's looking into investing in a nice chef's knife, but is still saving up for a better water filter. Follow him to whitening strip reviews at @Dannosphere.