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Over Coffee

Finding A Decaf I Can Tolerate
Oct 16, 2008 - 8:28:43 AM

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Those of you who know me best know I’ll turn down having coffee before I’ll drink decaf. It just doesn’t taste right to me. And I can smell the difference from across a room.

I grew up on coffee. My mother’s traditional breakfast was three cups of java, five cigarettes and a glass of orange juice.

Honest. Of course, that was in the ‘50s, and a lot of things have changed since then.

In my house “Hey, be sure you grab a good breakfast,” as I went out the door meant “hit the toaster with piece of bread and slop some butter on it” on your way to the bus stop.

I learned to love coffee early in life. The smell of it would always be there in the morning, along with my mother, surrounded by rings of blue-gray smoke, and her favorite radio announcer on Asbury Park N.J.’s now famous WJLK.

Right across from our high school there was a small restaurant and boat dock called Sunset Landing and I often met other students there after school. It was cool to smoke then- which I am proud to have quit in 1987- but it wasn’t the cigarette smoke so much as the smell of coffee that met us at the door.
I guess that smell has always meant “home.”

When my first husband and I were overseas with the military, we were only permitted so many “coffee stamps” each month. It was the government’s way of rationing some of the things that were in short supply. I always ran out way too early in the month and often traded my “Amerikanish preserves” to my Bavarian landlady, who in turn, gave me German kaffee. Oh boy, was that good.
Then in the early 1980s, a doctor told me I couldn’t drink caffeine anymore because of a physical condition. I took his advice about exercising in gyms, long walks, eating a low fat diet, giving up alcohol and quitting smoking.

But my coffee consumption continued.

This past year however, I have had some fairly severe health crises and cutting out  caffeine was recommended again. Now mind you, I gave up soda and all but an occasional cup of hot tea (maybe twice a month) years ago. So the caffeine in coffee was the only caffeine left in my body.

I decided to try and find a decaf I could live with at least part of the time and have since cut my morning pot to half Maxwell House French Roast and half specialty decaf.

When I go out, I still order “regular” in the morning, and in the afternoon simply ask for water. Then when I get home, I make a two-cup pot of the specialty decaf – only this time, without the regular mixed in.

I’ve found that although I can’t stand regular decaf (in any “regular” brand) I can, however, tolerate the expensive flavored coffee-shop blends. Raspberry. Blueberry. Pumpkin. Cinnamon nut strudel.

The problem is, at around $15 a pound, I had to figure some way to cut the specialty coffee in with regular decaf and make it last.

Quite resourceful by nature, I started experimenting. After all, it is only a two-cup pot. One scoop of flavored, one scoop of regular store brand (Maxwell House, Folgers, I even tried brands I had never tried before.)

About a month ago I noticed that some grocery stores sell little one-pot flavored ground coffees and decided to try all the decafs. I did.

I have finally decided that the morning pot will remain “regular” and anything after that will be flavored decaf; and it will be the best available, where ever I am. After all, I don’t drink alcoholic drinks, I don’t gamble, my family says I can squeeze food tight enough to feed a whole Army base with two cabbages and a basket of tomatoes, so I guess I can afford the best decaf, even when it costs five times what I’m used to paying.

Meanwhile, in the morning, when I flip the switch on my two-cup Mr. Coffee and the aroma of French roast floats through my house as I prepare for the best half hour of my day (quiet time being a rarity in my house) I am thankful that while I can still make these decisions for myself I will continue to hang onto something that gives me that much pleasure.

*Perhaps you have something you’d like to share. Or maybe you’d rather tell the community about your favorite charity or cause: or sound off about something you think needs change. That’s what “Over Coffee” is about. It really doesn’t matter whether we actually drink any coffee or not (although I probably will). It’s what you have to say that’s important. E-mail me at
any time and suggest a meeting place. No matter what’s going on, I’m usually available to share just one more cup.

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