I hate to say it but I do believe I am addicted to coffee. On the spectrum of addictions, it is a relatively benign one. While not entirely healthy in mass quantities, caffeine generally does not destroy lives like prescription pills and street drugs. So, over the years, I have had no problem consuming my several cups of java in the morning, sometimes even partaking in an afternoon run to a Starbucks or its equivalent. But, in recent days the specter of acid reflux, the nemesis to any hardcore coffee addict, has reared its ugly head again and my consumption of the piping hot brew has had to be curtailed.
I cut myself off cold turkey at the beginning of last week, the first morning making myself decaffeinated green tea. This is a crappy substitute but facing the day without a warm mug in my hands and drinking something cold is worse. Doctored up with honey did little to enhance the taste, something between grass clippings and pond water, green tea may be filled with antioxidants but as far as being a starter for the day it is entirely lacking. I find a good, strong cup of coffee sets the tone for my day, much like a tangy bloody mary or cold Schlitz malt liquor does for either end of the socio-economic lush spectrum. That balance between the mellowness of a fine breakfast blend with its hints of caramel and touch of smoky undertones and the electrifying jolt of a properly caffeinated brew simultaneously eases me into the morning and forces the synapses in my brain to start firing.
And, so without it, I found myself grumpy and incapable of being able to entirely focus. The headache began midday followed by an interminable fog that seemed to coat every recess of my cerebral cortex. I felt as though I were swimming under Plexiglas: the world a little less distinct, shapes a little more shadowy. I was in detox and not at all pleased.
For the sake of my stomach and esophagus, I kept up the tea drinking charade for a few more days until, like any hardened junkie, I could hold out no more. I fell off the wagon and succumbed to a cup of Peet’s Coffee. This is the good stuff, the grind I get shipped in from California. Major Dickinson’s blend was calling my name and I couldn’t say no. I savored it, breathing in the deep aromas, luxuriating in its rich taste. Keeping myself in denial, I went for a re-fill. Just a little more won’t hurt anything, I said to myself. I can stop whenever I want to.
One cup too many of the premium goods and my stomach was an acidic mess again. I had to lay off my morning ritual or I was really going to be miserable. But, giving up that tiny joy is more difficult than one would think. I needed a substitute and I needed it fast.
After skimming the grocery aisles, I noticed a Folgers product designed for “sensitive stomachs.” Being somewhat of a coffee snob, the idea of going down market or coffee “lite” held little appeal. But, I was desperate and willing to try just about anything. And, try I did. The smell was not nearly so full bodied, the taste rather insipid and flat. But, it was better than going green so to speak or throwing myself into the abyss of other decaffeinated teas. I was in my own step down program and this was my patch.
So far, my reflux has been held at bay by Mr. Folgers. My morning ritual remains fully intact. It is a little less flavorful but a good deal easier to keep down. No need to call an intervention yet. I’ve got things under control.
Isn’t that what every good addict says?