What in the World: In defense of decaf coffee


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There are few substances on Earth more maligned than decaffeinated coffee, and I cannot understand why. Decaf is hot, it is brown and it tastes like milquetoast regular coffee. None of these three characteristics seem worthy of remark, let alone opprobrium, from the masses. But search the wide world of memes — grant you mostly of the Boomer variety — and one would think that decaf was personally responsible for: the dissolution of Vine,  the live-action depiction of “Eragon” and the invasions of Poland over the last 800 years. Let me say that decaf is not only innocent of these baseless accusations but is preferable to the caffeinated variant almost always. Quality decaf results in: reduced nervousness compared to regular, permits caffeine to work when needed, allows for a better night’s sleep and has much the same taste as regular. 

Nervousness and general anxiety, those lodestones around the necks of so many college students, might see some reduction should you stop drinking a pot of caffeinated coffee a day. Two 10-ounce coffees get you to the FDA’s suggested caffeine limit; much beyond that begins all sorts of tics and jitters that you could likely do without. Alternating between regular and decaf could give you that coffee flavor you crave while staving off the adverse effects of caffeine over-consumption. If you can go full decaf, then you can sip that sweet, sweet bean juice all day with little fear of emotional and physical repercussions. 

Another aspect of decaf conversion that bears consideration is how you are setting a much lower “normal” caffeine intake level for your body. If you should ever truly need a boost of energy, your body will respond with gusto to a single cup of regular coffee. I worked with a guy in the Navy who would fall asleep while drinking Monster because he consumed it so regularly (3-5 per day). His body was so inured to caffeine’s effect that he had no recourse but to consume unhealthy quantities to get any sort of energy boost. The magic of perennial decaf-drinking is that a single cup of regular at just the right time — before an exam, during a road trip, defending Poland with your fellow winged hussars — will get you right while not wrecking your body.  

Sleep, the thing college students are only nominally aware exists, would probably do y’all some good. Better concentration, healthier brain and body and, perhaps, even some motivation could all be yours with several hours of shut-eye. Caffeine is not helping you with that, I am afraid. If you really do enjoy the taste of coffee at all times of day, I would humbly suggest you swap to decaf any time after noon. This swap allows your body to process the stimulant for a good long while before you totter off to bed, with “IHRTLUHC”s and “Why does Professor Gerard like saying settee so much”s being left for the next day. Do yourself and your roommate a favor: get your decaf on early, and you might just be able to get some rest. 

“Alright, Luther, you make fine points, but decaf tastes like the underside of a long-haul truck’s mudflaps,” one could say. First of all, what a highly graphic and unsettling description; I hope you did not come by this knowledge first-hand. Secondly, yes, decaf does give up some flavor-producing chemicals by way of its production method. But, let this not deter you from your conversion to the holy decaf. Who needs more chemicals anyway? Not the public waterways and not you. Some say that money cannot buy taste, but money can buy Dunkin’ Donuts Decaf, and that crystal brown tastes great. So, disregard what some say, for they know even less than Jon Snow.  

Decaf is superior for all the reasons I listed and, what is more, my grandma drinks it. This last point is probably the most potent and compelling, for my grandma is a wise, gracious and brilliant woman, and the world would be better if people were more like her. Now, whether this relationship between decaf and my grandma’s goodness is causal or correlative, who can say? But it bears considering.  

I urge you to consider giving decaf a try in your daily routine and see if it helps with your emotions, sleep and energy levels. A little bit of change in your coffee consumption program could do a world of good for you, and this is coming from a crotchety conservative who dies a little inside when people suggest “change.” 

Agree? Disagree? Think I am a shill for Big-Decaf? Let me know at abell@lawrence.edu. 

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