I gave up coffee about a year ago. It was like saying farewell to a friend who had really been there for me. In the morning, through long study and art making sessions, there it had always been, this gorgeous little dark roast of a fruit. No matter what they say about the health benefits of coffee, I’m on a hiatus. I’ve only made exceptions twice this year. Once because it was my birthday and the second time because my friend’s mother was visiting from Tuscany and she offered so sweetly that I couldn’t resist.
For most people coffee isn’t a problem. It has health benefits and socially soothing properties that balance its dark side of jitters, digestion stress and insomnia. My problems with rosacea, my issues with stress and being a little “tweaked” naturally are specific to me. So, while my friends pour macchiatos and lattes made from tiny bits of aromatic black gold, I abstain. I’ll tell you something, it feels good 99 percent of the time. For that other one percent I’ve turned my attention to coffee substitutes.
You may think a coffee substitute is one of those “why bother” endeavors but for the times when herbal tea just doesn’t satisfy that craving for something roasted, that something that takes some milk and goes well with my mood, I have a choice. Choice is key. It’s not about coffee/not coffee. It’s about fulfilling the roasted/not roasted taste that I want. After a year without it and with limited chocolate to boot, it’s not about the caffeine fix anymore. It’s about that taste and to some extent, yes, it’s about the sounds, the smells and all of the ritual.
First came Dandy Blend, which I kind of adore, but it has some sugar beet in it, which I kind of don’t. On days when I’m really on the edge of inflammation I can only have maybe one cup of it without risking a flare up. Compared to coffee which pretty much ensures some redness within an hour, Dandy Blend is still a pretty good option. Next came Teeccino, which is rich in the carob department. I studied their packages and have decided on the French Roast. It’s a little more iffy on the gluten-free aspect than Dandy Blend, but overall, it has bothered me less or the same. Sometimes I think it’s just my internal system, still a little too hyper for its own good, that just goes wonky whenever it even recalls those halcyon days of rich, glistening coffee.
Whatever we give up for our health isn’t just about the thing itself. It’s about the system of our bodies, the network of nerves and organs, that complex control center of the brain. I enjoy honoring my special make up. Making friends with life without coffee or caffeinated tea isn’t the absolute easiest thing in the world, but if it makes you feel better then it’s really not that hard either. It’s just a matter of applying a little creativity to the change. Now, if only cafes would catch on to this idea, since carrying a tea bag or my own stash can get a little awkward. Anyone with a coffee shop who reads this –think about it!! If you’re anywhere between Williamsburg, Bushwick or Manhattan, let me know!
Do you have a coffee replacement you love? Let me know in the comments!