Renew and Refresh the Caffeine and Acid-free Way
My favorite coffee place is across the parking lot from the post office, where my post office box is. They also sell my favorite brand of coffee there, along with accessories like filters. I can buy a pound for home and put the value of a complimentary cup of coffee toward a latté. One favorite thing to do is retrieve the mail from the box, get and enjoy a latté while reading the letters. Finding a seat can be a challenge. There is a round room off the coffee bar. Intense, usually young people hover over their laptops, typing away at tables for two that line the circumference of the room. There are four large comfy leather-covered chairs in pairs separated by small tables, in the middle of the room.
That’s when I’m in my hometown. Once I go wandering, I have to visit establishments run by a competitor. Truth: the competition offers better food choices.
The Culture of Coffee
I love to start my day with a cup of coffee, and I have preferred Peets House Blend for decades. But coffee is more than a way to start my morning. It’s part of a lifestyle. In most coffee places, the daily paper is available. Mind you, when I’m home, I get the news off my mobile phone. Newspaper delivery has gone the way of rubber rain boots. But, occasionally, in the coffee shop, I read the paper.
Friends and co-workers meet me in coffee houses to discuss updates on our work together. If I get lost on a long drive, I’ll stop at the coffee shop to get new directions. Coffee is practically a way of life.
Coffee and Blood Pressure
Recently, my blood pressure seemed high, and the doctor prescribed blood pressure medication. I return to my provider fairly often to have it measured. On one such occasion, when a higher reading surprised me, the medical assistant asked, “Did you drink coffee this morning?”
Coffee, with or without caffeine, increases blood pressure for a short time, perhaps up to three hours. Coffee production, roasting, service, and sales are big business. Lots of medical research looks at coffee’s effect on the heart, blood pressure, and risk of heart disease and stroke.
Is coffee good for you or bad? Research results are contradictory. Its benefits include protection against Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver disease, including liver cancer. Coffee also appears to improve cognitive function and decrease the risk of depression.
High consumption of boiled or espresso coffee is associated with small elevations in cholesterol levels. A particular and relatively common genetic mutation that slows down the breakdown of caffeine in the body increases coffee’s ill effects after one or two cups. Adverse effects of coffee consumption include more stress due to increased cortisol, dehydration, heartburn, and headache. Caffeine overdose can lead to hallucinations while sleeping at night.
There are widely conflicting reports from various studies. How do we decide whether they should enjoy or avoid coffee? We need to know ourselves, our health situation, and the major health issues for our parents and siblings to know which result applies to us.
High blood pressure is in my recent health picture, so I looked more seriously into coffee alternatives. Not so long ago, people avoiding coffee drank Postum, a bland beverage introduced in 1895, Caffix or Pero, two instant grain beverages which are equally flat. Previous to the high blood pressure diagnosis, I purchased a giant jar of Roma, another grain beverage like Caffix, etc. I wanted to cut down on my coffee consumption. Not exciting. Most of it is still in the cupboard.
A lot of gourmets must be trying to cut back on coffee because a vast array of richly flavored coffee alternatives that look like coffee are on the market. My current favorite coffee lookalikes are chicory herbal coffee alternative (French Dark Roast) and Dandelion Dark Roast. Both are caffeine and acid-free herbal teas. To me, they feel more nourishing than coffee, and I surprise myself by preferring them to coffee sometimes.
Other herbal teas are coffee substitutes, too, although they may not look like coffee. Due to the many claims of its health benefits, green tea is widely available. If you live in a place with many Chinese and Japanese people, you may be able to find my favorite varieties — sencha or hogicha (roasted green tea). Jasmine green tea has all the health benefits of green tea plus the refreshing fragrance of common jasmine flowers year-round.
I go back and forth between preferring green tea and red (rooibos bush) tea. Rooibos tea is native to the Cedarberg Mountains near the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. It is as high as or higher in antioxidants than green tea. Whereas green tea has a small amount of caffeine, red rooibos tea has none. Lately, rooiboos bush tea is winning.
Your special cup
Whatever your favorite, choose a unique cup or mug to enjoy it. Let it match your china or be one of a kind. I have several big mugs that hold my morning brew. To encourage myself to drink water through the day, I recently bought a clear glass teapot, which can be put in the microwave to warm up tea. The most enticing, steeped hot drink can be forgotten in the passionate dash to finish an article. Warm it up again!
In contrast to the big coffee mugs, with the glass teapot, I find myself happy with small 4-ounce cups. I have a set of them that matches a Chinese porcelain teapot. Somehow it seems irreverent to put that, with its delightful rice grain pattern, or its little cups in the microwave. But one small cup can be a faithful partner to the glass teapot. The distinction between American enthusiasm for everything large represented by the big mugs for coffee and the delicate, disciplined Asian influence shown by the four-ounce rice grain cup does not escape me. The small cups deliver just enough and not too much.
Of course, now that I enjoy coffee alternatives, I notice that they are not available in the coffee shops. In my coffee days, I enjoyed hobnobbing with students and businesspeople, catching a short meeting over their mochas. Most shops have teas, but somehow never the variety I’d like. I can have a disappointing experience with a different brew to drop into an old favorite hangout, but it’s not the same. I don’t think I was addicted to coffee, so I don’t go in the coffee shop and madly crave a cup of joe. It’s not like that but they don’t have dark roast chicory French roast. I may as well go home. I feel sad at the loss of a favorite hangout.
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