Sunday, January 3, 2016

a matter of taste

giraffes need coffee too

According to my doctor, whom I can no longer see because our insurance company went out of business and she doesn't take our new insurance (not bitter), I should only drink decaf coffee or preferably none at all. There's some reflux/swallowing situation and a persnickety stomach that she thinks would be better served without the extra acidity and irritation of caffeine. I refused to comply for awhile on the basis that I barely drink coffee compared to most people - 8 oz a day with breakfast. Then I tried half-caff with little noticeable improvement. So I finally gave up and went full decaf during the week and had "real" coffee on the weekends because I just can't bring myself to drink decaf all the time. It's not about the caffeine. I noticed no difference in functioning or energy level, and I get irritated when people whine about how they need caffeine when what they really need is sleep and water (Self-righteous, party of one). If they made decaf that tasted the way the other coffee we drink tastes, I would happily switch over. The problem is I LOVE the coffee we drink. My partner has worked in specialty coffee (think non-starbucks/smaller companies with high quality beans roasted at a medium profile and respectable sourcing ethics) for over ten years. I worked in a specialty shop for about 3.5 years. I have developed a serious weakness for fancy coffee (and a disdain for people who drink corner store motor fuel just to get their fix, sorry to any fiending readers willing to drink anything). Coffee is also a part of my morning trifecta of happiness, which involves a breakfast that I've been obsessed with for about 5 years (the exact same breakfast every day, if at all humanly possibly) and reading a book while I eat.

When I went on my summer music pilgrimage, I switched to regular coffee for the purposes of sharing the excess from my french press (just try sharing decaf and see how many scornful looks and wrinkled noses come your way). I planned on sharing for two reasons: I knew from experience that people were going to scoff at my coffee-making paraphernalia (hand grinder, scale) so sharing was a way to reduce the mockery, and it was a damn good excuse to not drink decaf. Ever since the trip, I've had difficulty making the switch back to my ascetic decaf ways, which causes guilt and reflux. I worry that I'm causing permanent damage or somehow creating the conditions for the dreaded C word by damaging tissues or whatever. This is the problem with health-related decisions. They all involve what are called "intertemporal choices," which is when the choice you make now will affect the possibilities available later. Put another way, it's the choice between the cost/benefit of something now vs. the cost/benefit of something in the future. Like going to bed. The perceived cost of turning off that movie now outweighs the future benefit of feeling rested in the morning. Or drinking less alcohol. The perceived benefit of having that last beer vs the future cost of being more hung over. Or the perceived cost of drinking decaf vs. the benefit of better digestive health. Blah blah blah. Basically I'm feeling whiny and guilty and irritated that I have a sensitive body when other people treat theirs like complete shit and don't appear to suffer any consequences. Moving on to our short form for the day:

measured and consumed
with care, I can't give up the
highlight of my day

picture: the window of a coffeeshop whose name I can't remember, NYC, August 2011, film, Canon Tlb 


Steve Reed said...

I can identify. Coffee is an integral part of my day, although for me it honestly is NOT about the caffeine. It's more about the taste and the comforting warmth and darkness. Once I went to a Zen retreat where they served us decaf and I had no idea. I went through the whole week and only at the end did I learn the truth, and honestly I didn't miss it! (I drink caff now, though, mostly because decaf tastes weird to me.)

I'm not a doctor, but I question whether a cup a day of coffee would make much medical difference. Do you notice less reflux when you drink decaf?

herding tapeworms said...

I'm not a doctor either, but I had the same thought. 8 oz! it's barely a full cup of coffee! sadly I do notice a difference. Not enough to keep me from abstaining. This is the problem with mild discomfort. Not nearly enough motivation to make the hard choice. Nice to hear I'm not the only who's not in it for the caffeine. Funny that you didn't even notice!