Coffee please, decaf.

Greta Moore

My father and I try to have a meal together once a week. A few weeks ago, we had breakfast at First Watch.

The waiter asked, “Coffee?”

“No thanks,” my dad said.

The waiter looked to me.

“I’ll have some decaf.”

“Decaf,” he asked with his mouth agape.

“Yes,” I patted my huge round belly, “I’m pregnant, you see.”

“Yes, of course,” he said as he stumbled away bewildered.

This was not the first awkward moment that happened when I ordered decaf. Coffee shops all over town have been puzzled when I ordered a decaf mocha. Most baristas look at me like, “Why would you want that?”

I have even had coffee shops tell me they don’t carry decaf coffee of any type. Coffee shops that don’t carry decaf are doing a great disservice to those with heart conditions, irritable stomachs, heartburn, insomnia and who are pregnant. There are so many reasons to drink decaf for health reasons, why would a business want to cut out that customer base?

After David Letterman’s heart bypass surgery in 2000, he began drinking decaf from his “Late Show” mug. He was doing it by doctor’s orders. He joked, “Oh, God, I hate decaffeinated coffee. It’s useless warm brown water. … It’s like low-alcohol gin. What’s the point?”

The attitude that drinking coffee is about the buzz is held by many people. A study published in 2010 casts doubt on this notion. According to a June 3, 2010 article at Science Daily, titled “Coffee Consumption Unrelated to Alertness.”

“Frequent coffee drinkers develop a tolerance to both the anxiety-producing effects and the stimulatory effects of caffeine. While frequent consumers may feel alerted by coffee, evidence suggests that this is actually merely the reversal of the fatiguing effects of acute caffeine withdrawal.”

The study also found that people who are not regular coffee drinkers experience anxiety after drinking coffee rather than alertness. According to Science Daily, “Given the increased propensity to anxiety and raised blood pressure induced by caffeine consumption, there is no net benefit to be gained.”

Drinking decaffeinated coffee still produces the same psychological moment of happiness that regular coffee gives. It is more the sugar that gives us pleasure. When ordering coffee, it is still permitted to add as much sugar as you want. If you are a true sugar fiend you may opt for a flavored syrup, like chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut, or many others found at your local coffee shop and supermarket.

When ordering decaf, it is best to seek decaffeination done by the Swiss water process or saying “Naturally Decaffeinated.” The Swiss water process uses activated charcoal or carbon filters to decaffeinate without chemicals.

When coffee is decaffeinated naturally, it is done with ethyl acetate. Ethyl acetate is found in fruits and is not harmful. Decaf is your friend. Some coffee roasters swear decaffeinated coffee has a deeper flavor than regular coffee, brought out by the natural methods of decaffeination. Real coffee drinkers don’t need caffeine.

Real coffee drinkers drink coffee because they like it.

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