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Monday, February 29, 2016

Coffee - To Drink or Not to Drink - That is the Issue

Ours is a mixed marriage - not racially mixed or even divided over religion. The great divide in our marriage was over coffee. You see, I grew up in a small Seventh-day Adventist college town in Texas. We rolled up the streets at sundown on Friday and rolled 'em back out at Sundown on Saturday. Adventists, especially in college hive towns, are pretty strict about things like Sabbath observance (we don't work, play army, or watch TV on Sabbath), alcohol (we don't drink period), meat-eating (we didn't sell it in any stores in town - you had to drive 7 miles to Cleburne to get a hamburger), AND coffee.  Oh, there were those who smuggled it in and drank it on the sly, but those folk were committing sin and they knew it and didn't care.

I never got the big deal about coffee. My step-dad liked coffee, but to me it always tasted like the liquid my Mom would pour off a pot of burned pinto beans. Don't ask how I know - it's one of those inexplicable things one does in childhood to find out about stuff. I could never get past the taste.

Also, caffeine has virtually no discernible effect on me other than as a sleep aid. I have ADHD. I once chewed up and swallowed two No-Doze (at that time roughly the equivalent of 20 cups of coffee) in an effort not to fall asleep while driving on I-20 in Louisiana. It did not work. My wife had to keep picking fights with me to keep me awake the rest of the way there. We got to her parents house a half hour later at 1am. I immediately went straight to bed, chock full of caffeine. I must have rolled and tossed for 3 or 4 minutes before I fell asleep. I slept like a baby. So without the "hit" you get from the caffeine, coffee for me was all about the taste and for those of you so caffeine-addled that you missed it, coffee doesn't taste very good. If I put a lot of milk in the cup with a half pound or so of sugar, I can just about drink it, but only to be polite to my relatives for whom coffee is a religious rite.

My Sweet Baboo, unlike me, was weaned on coffee - literally. Her mother used to drink 3 or 4 pots of the stuff a day, so my wife was already on massive doses of caffeine in utero. Miz Bea's breast milk was probably the equivalent of a Red Bull for caffeine content. Sheila went straight from breast milk to coffee at around 18 months. I think her mom used to lace her baby bottles with it.

Sheila's constitution is quite different from mine with respect to caffeine. If she drinks a Coke after 6pm, she'll spend half the night sitting up in bed quivering with her eyes peeled open like a hoot owl. You should see her clean a house after a couple of cups of morning coffee. It's like those old Mr. Clean commercials. She's like a white tornado. Me and the dog go hide when she gets cranked up. 

And there's the taste! My wife growing up always envisioned sitting around the breakfast table with her handsome husband, talking about feelings and drinking a morning cup o' coffee. It had to be coffee in order to complete the picture. Chocolate milk would NOT do. Orange juice in a coffee cup would not do.  And MILK absolutely ruined the tableau for her.

Unfortunately, I just really hate coffee. It has been a forty year long source of grief to my poor wife, for whom sitting on the porch talking doesn't really work without a cup of coffee in everybody's hand. That's how it was done back home and pouring a diet Dr. Pepper into a cup fools no one. It keeps making bubbles and a fizzy sound and coffee aficionados are not fooled. They also think you're a sissy if you don't drink coffee and that's not something you want to be among people from Louisiana (or East Texas for that matter).

Trouble was, I didn't really like the SDA official coffee substitute either. The folk at Post used to make a grain-based beverage called Postum. Charlie Post, was the guy who stole the idea for corn flakes from John Harvey Kellogg who ran the Adventist Sanitarium in Battle Creek (yeah, that Kellogg). Post developed enough of an SDA following that he dug back into Civil War alternatives for coffee and created a coffee substitute aimed at the Adventists and Mormons who don't do caffeine and the unfortunate folk who can't tolerate it. I don't know if they make it anymore. I haven't seen it around on store shelves lately.

Fortunately for me Loma Linda foods, and SDA vegetarian food manufacturer does produce a product called Kaffree Roma, which is actually pretty good. It looks like coffee, but with a little milk, sweet n' low and vanilla flavoring, it comes pretty close to hot cocoa for taste without the caffeine.

Sadly, it may be a little late for this mixed marriage to get the same boost from sharing a hot coffee-like beverage on the porch or over the breakfast table. Once you get old, it's hard to reset your habits. Besides, my Sweet Baboo has decided to quit her caffeine habit and she's drinking decaf these days. I'm not sure decaf will work as a substitute for the old morning cup o' joe.  Rituals tied to beverages are hard to recreate with substitutes. It's one of the reasons smokers and alcoholics have such a hard time quitting.

Still, I think I'll make me a cup of coffee substitute when I fix up Miss Sheila's morning cup of decaf. Who knows. We may get her fondly remembered ritual going again.  Just without the kick it once had.  I did save some of the evil caffeine kind of coffee in the freezer, just in case Mama needs a jolt to get her housework done or I need help falling asleep.

© 2016 by Tom King


Francescook said...

Love this one. Should be discussed more I think.

Larry McKinstry said...

Yes good old Postum is back on the shelves here in Utah (Mormonville) but at about $14.00 a jar think I'll stick with the real McCoy.