Thursday, March 21, 2013

50 Shades of Java

Over the past two years, I've developed a deep addiction to caffeine in the form of coffee. And I haven't been reluctant to discuss it.

If anything, unemployment has deepened that addiction. I average five cups a day, which isn't that much compared with a lot of people but is still pretty hefty when the majority of the coffee comes from your Keurig machine.

I love my Keurig. I received it as a gift last Father's Day, and it has undergone high levels of use every day since. The problem, of course, is that getting coffee from individual K-Cups is not nearly as economically efficient as making a pot or two with a conventional coffee maker.

But I love the K-Cup coffee. I mean, I love it. That first cup every morning is heavenly. I'll brew it up and then just stare at it for a minute. The deep, rich, dark brown color. The way it fills out my soccer ball mug (I must drink my coffee from the soccer ball mug. I don't know why.) It's beautiful, and it turns an even nicer carmel-y color when I add in the half and half or Carnation creamer.

Then comes the smelling. Oh my, the smelling. That first whiff. My knees buckle a little. I'm not kidding. Sometimes the first smell is so awesome that I start to lose consciousness for a second. That can't be normal, can it? No, probably not. But I really, really like the way it smells.

(NOTE: At this point, you're probably worried about me. And I understand and appreciate your concern. But don't judge me. Just leave me and my hot beverage alone.)

The next step, as you might imagine, is the tasting. The thing with me in this department is that I have the least discriminating palette ever. I like all kinds of coffee. Do you understand? ALL. KINDS. OF. COFFEE. Light, dark, Brazilian, Colombian, bold, blonde, whatever. Doesn't matter. My only criterion is: Does it have coffee taste? Yes? Then that's good enough for me!

The Keurig manual advises you to try different kinds of K-Cups until you discover your own personal flavor. I've already discovered my personal flavor. It's "coffee." I'm like a cheap caffeine floozy.

I'll drink it black if I have to (my daughter Chloe drinks it that way a lot), but I prefer the creamer. Half and half offers the best flavor, but it also costs me one Weight Watchers point, whereas the low-fat Carnation is point-free. I drink enough coffee that those points accumulate quickly over the course of the day, so I'll split time equally between the two creamer agents.

I also plan out my coffee drinking. After I down the first cup, I wonder how soon before I can have a second cup without looking like a junkie. And then I'll realize that no one is watching me, so I'll brew up cup #2 to take with me to the computer to start the day's job hunting and/or freelance writing activities.

Cup #3 can sometimes wait until lunch, but it's usually closer to 11 a.m. It helps me bridge the gap until the mid-day meal, which is a function of coffee I've come to appreciate as I've lost weight. It really does a nice job of keeping you feeling full so that you don't get too hungry. Not getting hungry means I don't eat as much. Not eating as much means I lose weight. Losing weight means I'm more healthy. Hence, coffee = medicine. I don't think that's too much of a leap to make.

Cup #4 generally happens around 2 p.m., which is also when my wife has a scheduled coffee dose (though for her it's probably not quite her fourth of the day). This gives us a little time together to talk and review how the day is going. Thus, coffee is not only medicine, it is also a marital aid. (I seriously cannot believe I just used that phrase.)

Cup #5 happens a little before dinner. Again, it's a nice bridge before the last meal of the day, hunger-wise, but it also helps keep my attention on whatever work I'm doing. So in addition to medicine and, ahem, marital aid, coffee also supports my career. I'm telling you, it's like a miracle drink!

If there's going to be a cup #6, it is decaf and it happens somewhere in the 7 to 9 p.m. range. I always tell people that caffeine doesn't keep me awake at night, but I'm honestly not 100% convinced of that, so I hedge my bets a little by making #6 of the low-octane variety. Doesn't matter to me, really, since it still has the same great smell, taste, temperature, etc.

Sometime later, Terry and I will crawl into bed and I'll give a little sigh of contentment. Usually I'll look back proudly on whatever I was able to accomplish that day, and slowly I'll drift off to sleep for the proverbial long winter's nap.

And the best part is, it's only eight more hours until cup #1...

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