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Thursday, May 3, 2012


HI, MY NAME IS TOM--I'm a recovering caffeine addict. Recently, I found myself being a bit testy with the staff (fortunately I work alone) so I self-prescribed cutting out caffeine cold turkey. No gradual weaning here. Going from four double-latte’s per day to zero is a recipe for screaming withdrawal symptoms. But when the doc says if your blood pressure goes higher you won’t have to worry about the headaches because you’ll be enjoying eternity on the mantle in a Mason jar. That is until Thumbelina, the maid knocks you off of it.

As I stared forlornly at my Italian-made espresso machine, I began to tinker with an obvious alternative: decaffeinated coffee. My late WWII vet dad once told me that his first taste of espresso coffee came in Normandy after D-Day. Fellow soldiers found espresso a bit strong. They preferred their Joe weak. And, before you call a carbine and grenade-carrying soldier a wuss, he wasn’t alone. Soldiers would order espresso and add water to make a cup of coffee that they were more used to.

You guessed it. Coffee houses in Europe, especially France and Italy began offering coffee drinks made with half espresso and half hot water. This blend was called CafĂ© Americano. Today, you’ll find Americanos offered in coffee houses across the world.

Back to my kitchen. I stared at my unemployed espresso machine and decided to try an Americano with decaf. Dad would have said that’s like looking at a pinup of Betty Grable with all her clothes on.

Bottom line: My experiment worked. I’ve been drinking Americanos—homemade—since March. I had zero headaches during my exit from caffeine.

And, for you espresso purists my decaf Americano has that wonderful “crema” layer as well. Life is good, again. See you at the next meeting.

Epilogue: Yes, I also gave up my Hershey’s candy bar habit and fudge brownies. My life is a wreck, but the top line on my blood pressure readings went from 160 to 120 and according to my nurse, Attila-the-Hen, that’s off the charts.

Recipe: one demitasse of espresso with one demitasse of hot water. For a regular cup of coffee try two demitasse cups of hot water with one of espresso. Make sure the coffee is ground for espresso machines. The darker the roast the more the coffee tastes like it has caffeine.

DETOX UPDATE: As of June 30, I've made it three months without caffeine in coffee by sticking to my Americano decaf plan.

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