The Blessing of Coffee
How an Exaggerated Immune Response Gave Me Heaven


I’m the prince of a thousand allergies. I’m allergic to chocolate, strawberries, walnuts, sea bass and grass clippings from graveyards. It’s true. I drove by the Eden Memorial Park and Mausoleum on Sepulveda Boulevard while a John Deere was cutting the grass and I had to pull over to the side of the road stopped because my eyes had swollen shut.

I’m also allergic to milk. I think that’s because I was never breast fed. Our family doctor at the time — a well-respected Studio City GP — convinced my mother that, given American Medical Association research, her milk was bad. As a result, I was pumped full of so much soy that, later in life, I couldn’t eat tofu without swelling up. And so, I grew up drinking goat’s milk in an age when a child was required to drink 3 healthy glasses of some milk every day even if it did smell like nannie hair. The taste was like licking a goat’s stomach. What a blessing. To mellow the taste, my grandma spiked my milk — my goat’s mike — with coffee. Every preteen morning, from the time I was 5, I got wired on straight out of the can percolated Maxwell House.

You may say the AMA’s deletion of breast milk from my diet is responsible for my addiction to coffee. It’s one of the few happy things doctors introduced to me. Coffee saved my life.

As a young man, coffee gave me an unfair advantage in activity. Hyper-activity. I was tightly wound and violently happy. I could do things my peers couldn’t — or more than likely — wouldn’t do. Be that as it may, coffee was my savior. It was like being born again over and over and over and over again.

As the world's most widely consumed psychoactive substance, coffee’s active ingredient, caffeine, decreases reaction time by as much as 18 percent. Call response. Callrepsonse. It’a an ergogenic — an enhancer. You’re faster for it. Studies have shown that coffee increases "race-pace" endurance in athletes. Coffee in a five year old can be seriously cathartic. It also, as Napoleon said, “gives a pain that is not without any great pleasure.” As young Nathan said, “since the drink expands your blood vessels so that more blood flows to the heart and brain, you must always beware: Bad beans . . . bad brains.

I’ve tried to quit drinking the stuff, but it’s a hard sell to stop coffee cold turkey. When I do, I get these mile-square migranes — the kind of migranes where you’re so intensely aware of the size of your consciousness that your eyes water. I’ve done morphine, LSD, marijuana, cocaine, vicodin. They’re not nearly as addictive as caffeinated coffee. If it wasn’t for the fact that it increases productivity, I’m sure the US Government would classify coffee a schedule one narcotic. Hypocrites.

I’m a seeker of the ultimate cup. Coffee follows me all the years of my life. I will dwell in the house of caffeine forever.

With coffee, all things are possible. So, when you’ve had the best cup of coffee, you’re locked in. You’ve tasted heaven. It was Carl Diedrich who introduced me to heaven. Carl made the tastiest, blackest, strongest cup on the planet. The draw of his cup
calling out to my veins and brain put me in a sacred place inhabited by taste, smell, breadth and sublime energy. His brew greatly decreased the distance between my perceived grasp and reach. And while any old drug may have made me want to change the world, a cup of Carl’s fortified my spirit to change it.

Like I said, I’m the prince of a thousand allergies. I’m allergic to shellfish, ragweed, dogs, cats, perfume, mice, roses and tea. It makes my mouth break out in a rash. But coffee: all glory to coffee — able to keep me from falling away, bringing me with great joy into its heavenly presence. All glory, majesty, and power, is coffee before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time. Praise be coffee — the beautiful addiction.

— Nathan Callahan

First Broadcast September 16, 2011

© / Nathan Callahan / all rights reserved


Broadcasting Fridays at 8:50 am from KUCI 88.9 fm Orange County, California