Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Coffee For Dummies

JP is out of town on business. It's funny to say that since his business barely exists yet, but it's a trip taken with his two partners on behalf of their fledgling company, so I suppose it counts.. Things are progressing in that area and he's excited about all they're learning (they're visiting someone who's been successfully doing what they're planning to do), so I'm really happy for him, but dammit I sleep terribly when he's gone. I don't sleep so well when he's here either- what with the snoring and the talking in his sleep and random attempts between 2 and 5 AM to grab me from across the bed, drag me over to his side in the crook of his arm, and squish me up against him in a forced spoon- leaving me trapped under his vastly superior strength as he sighs a happy sigh and falls deeper into sleep (until I kick him in the shins to escape). So yeah, I don't sleep well with him, but I sleep much worse without him. It's like my body knows his is missing- I wake up constantly during the night to feel for him and am always surprised when he's not there. I sleep fitfully and wake up irritable, calling him immediately to yell at him for ruining my slumber- he generally takes this as the expression of love that it is, which leaves me even more irritable.

But to the point- I am very, very tired. I am facing thousands of documents that need review for a litigation case that becomes more complex by the second. There are about 15 corporate entities, all with the same three words in their name (note to founders: use your imaginations next time!), some of which must be produced, some which don't, and a big mix in between that only need to be produced if certain discreet issues are present. To make it worse, my current batch is all the scanned-in loose papers from various exec's offices, so there's no highlighting of search terms, just hundreds of pages of scribbles (and the occasional doodle, which always makes me smile). I think I need coffee. Tea isn't cutting it and it's too early for diet coke (I don't eat in the morning and diet coke before food gives me a terrible stomach ache- besides I don't think diet coke does anything for me anymore caffeine-wise). Unfortunately, I hate coffee. I've only tried it once, but I hate the smell and even the slightest hint in a food item will ruin it for me. But it's plentiful (there are four varieties in my floor's coffee bar alone), it doesn't require removing a tea bag, which I always need to do 5 minutes into a meeting with nowhere to put it, it's cheap, you generally get free refills at restaurants, it's hot (I'm almost always cold in the morning), it's low calorie, and most importantly it would be a new source of caffeine! I've always found switching caffeine sources to be the most effective way to be jolted by it. And I desperately need a jolt.

So I ask you, is there anyway to make it taste absolutely nothing like coffee? I've tried the frou frou Starbucks drinks and hate them all (except the delicious and coffee-free chai tea latte)- is there no hope for me then? Does everyone hate it at first? I've heard it can grow on you, did you just choke it down until you liked it? That's what I did with tea (well choking combined with about 6 packets of splenda) and now I'm a big fan- and down to only two splendas per cup! Is there hope for me?

36 comments:

  1. Everywhere I've always worked has also supplied hot chocolate, so I would put in powdered hot chocolate to make it more like a mocha. It doesn't take much either, like maybe a 1/4 packet?

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  2. There is hope! First, don't drink regular coffee from Starbuck--they burn their beans in the roasting, which makes all of their coffee, even the mild blends, taste very bitter. Second, look for mild blends at the places you do go to. I think the Hideout (on Congress at about 8th) labels their coffee pretty well, so you could try there. Finally, start with minimal coffee to maximal "stuff." Try half coffee, half milk, with lots of sugar or sugar substitute. If you can stomach it, use whole milk or at least 2%--skim will not do it.

    The other option is to see if you can find a place that does tea the way Argo does--without bags. I don't know if such a thing exists where you are. Starbucks has also recently introduced a tea latte that doesn't have a bag in it, so you could try that. The London Fog isn't bad, but they squirt too much of the added syrup stuff to it, so I'd ask them to cut back on that.

    Oh, one more note: Never drink coffee lukewarm. It tastes AWFUL even if you like coffee. Make sure it's hot--not burn your mouth hot, but hot.

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  3. I had to learn to like it too. I started with bottled Frappuchino (but I was 16 with the corresponding metabolism) and worked my way up to black coffee. Now I have black coffee with skim milk for all the reasons you've mentioned--cheap and lo-cal in particular. I agree with not starting with Starbucks brewed coffee. It's way too strong and not my favorite. Dunkin Donuts is good and HEB has good coffee by the cup for cheap too. Just put lots of milk and sugar/splenda in at first. Welcome to the club! :)

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  4. Oh! I almost forgot, an important step on my journey to black coffee was the Cafe au Lait. It's almost half coffee half steamed milk. It's much milder than say a latte because it is made with coffee and not espresso. I may have to go get one now!

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  5. I never drank coffee until my roommate in DC introduced me to her coffee. Always a flavored coffee (usually hazelnut) and always a nearly half coffee/half warm 1/2 and 1/2 ratio plus sugar. Basically, a little (flavored) coffee with my 1/2 and 1/2 and sugar. That eased me into drinking it on occasion.

    Of course, 7 years later, I can hardly stomach coffee that sweet, but that's how I started.

    I've told my boss that I can't fathom making it through law school and early parenthood without becoming a coffee drinker. I certainly can't imagine making it through early parenthood IN law school without becoming a coffee drinker!

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  6. I am not a huge coffee drinker. I like mild to medium roasts. I don't like dark roasts. My favorite is french vanilla light roast. My firm has it for the K-Cup thingy down the hall. It is yum. I put in 2 little things of non-dairy creamer. I don't like sugar in my coffee (tastes like syrupy caffeine to me) but the french vanilla flavoring adds just the right amount of sweetness (too me). Otherwise, a mild or medium brew plus sugar will do.

    Starbucks coffee is NOT good. I like the skinny vanilla latte as well as the skinny mocha. But their coffee is too bitter and undrinkable by itself.

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  7. flavored coffees are great. also mild blends with lots of milk and splenda. good luck!
    you could also switch to no-sugar red bull if you really hate the coffee, it's yummy but expensive.

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  8. Yes, there is hope. Start with mochas- just a little bit of coffee. it's all down hill from there.

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  9. To be honest, I can't believe you've lasted this long w/out coffee. I hate coffee. But I've needed it whenever I've worked (as opposed to just being school, where I could always make it w/out it). I would fall asleep at my desk w/out coffee!

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  10. Bengali Chick1/14/09, 12:58 PM

    Aww girl, I get your pain. I have the same problem when hubby is away. I just can't sleep well unless he's spooning me. I hope your dude is back soon=)

    So hubby won't drink coffe or tea for that matter. Somehow diet coke still works for him (it's mind boggling). But I once made a beverage and he took a sip and said it was okay. So you too may enjoy it.

    2 shots of espresso + chocolate soy milk + sugar or sugar alternative as needed. You may want to start with 1 shot of espresso. Good espresso to me tastes very chocolatey. I bought a delonghi espresso maker from Macy's for $30 on sale and it's still the bomb -- even though I had to give up my morning latte:(

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  11. Tons of sweetner and the flavored creamer-- lots. Buy the dry stuff and keep it in your desk-- That is what I am doing now as I review and redact box loads of docs. Good Luck waking up.

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  13. Coffee may not really keep you awake, at least it doesn't for me. Mostly it just makes my stomach upset and my pee smell gross. Then I feel more tired after. I think eating and drinking water wake me up more. If you do need coffee, an Americano (half espresso, half hot water), or a latte is the way to go!

    Also, I sleep terribly when PJO is gone too. As annoying as it is, I do think it's sweet... makes me feel like my life is whole when he's there with me. The novelty of having the whole bed to yourself wears off, huh?

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  14. I do not drink coffee and never have. I do sometimes think that it would be nice to switch, but besides hating coffee, I also hate hot drinks. So I stick to Diet Coke. I think you should just start eating int he mornings. ;)

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  15. Sadly Meg, the eating in the morning also gives me a stomach ache. I can have tea any time, water that isn't too cold when I've been up a few hours, and solid food starting at about 10:30. It's taken me years to figure out all of my stomach's rules- it really should come with a user's manual!

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  16. If you've already got a touchy stomach, coffee may not be the best choice. I also have a fussy stomach, and I tried to drink coffee regularly in college, and let's just say it wasn't pretty. Now it's just for special occasions, and only with food.

    But if you are going to try it, I agree with the above posters - Starbucks is too bitter, and try cutting it with cocoa/milk. Or maybe they'll make you a chai latte with a shot of expresso?

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  17. Hmmm - try a Starbucks Carmel Macchiato or one of the signature hot chocolates with a shot of espresso. But I can't say that those are low cal!

    I hear you on the sleeping thing. My husband travels regularly and I vary between sleeping better when he is gone and sleeping better when he is here! Comforting to have near by, but annoying to elbow when snoring!

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  18. Oh I can't believe I'm typing this but coffee keeps me "regular" in the morning. Unless you're completely comfortable going to the restroom at work, beware!

    I recall popping Halls Mentholyptus drops during late night study sessions or early morning classes to wake myself up. Since you're tummy is sensitive to an early breakfast, would something like a sugar-free drop/lozenge do the trick?

    Good luck!

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  19. Some people really like the "flavor" coffees, but to me they are disgusting. I never drank coffee until I fell in love with my BF/Future Husband, who kept me up late nights at Waffle Houses, where the only way to keep my eyes open was to drink the vile stuff.

    I second whoever said to avoid Starbucks. Their coffee is truly gross. It's always bitter and tastes burnt. Go for light blends and if at all possible, do half coffee and half cream... or 2/3 coffee, 1/3 cream. As a future diabetic, I've cut all Splenda completely (almost) from my coffee and find that it actually tastes better (as long as there's a LOT of milk).

    So in short, I suggest, lots of cream/milk.. there's no shame in a white cup of coffee :) Or Cafe Au Lait (coffee and frothy milk). Splenda to your taste. Acquiring a taste for coffee requires three things: willingness to experiment, determination (it'll take a few cups) and desperation (otherwise, who would ever start drinking the stuff)!

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  20. I have a touchy stomach so I only drink coffee when I really really need it (when work gets crazy). For whatever reason tea doesn't bother me as much as coffee does. Have you tried a super caffeinated tea like tazo's awake or celestial seasoning's morning thunder? When I do drink coffee I usually find that a flavored creamer (hazelnut is my favorite) and lots of slenda helps me choke it down. Good luck!

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  21. There is hope indeed. I didn't start with coffee until my very last night class in my very last semester of college and I am now addicted. Whee. Anyway, I started out mixing it in with the super-sweet hot chocolate that comes from the kind of dispensers you see in gas stations (college snack store, in this case) and slowly changed the coffee:cocoa ratio. It was mostly coffee by the end of the semester. I still like a lot of milk in my coffee, but also drink it really strong.

    It sounds like you need someone to highlight your docs. Want to mail some to me? :)

    Could you get a little dish to bring with you to meetings to put your tea bag in?

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  22. I got my start with the international coffee things in college, then started doing about 1/2 that and 1/2 "big girl coffee" plus some sugar and cream. Finally got to just a very tall coffee with 2 sugars and 2 creamers.

    My recent obsession is a tall glass of ice, pour fresh hot coffee on it until it's level with the ice, then a glug or two of french vanilla creamer (the liquid). No sugar necessary.

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  23. Oh, you can also wean your way onto coffee by adding a shot of espresso to your chai latte.

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  24. It was kinda like tuna for me, I need so much mayo and pickles you wouldn't know it was tuna. Tons of either milk and sugar or flavored creamer and sugar...won't taste like regular coffee again. But, regular coffee at places like Starbucks is STRONG and you need even more sugar :) As we say around here, I like a little bit of coffee with my milk and sugar. I think Folgers but I'm not sure make a "morning" coffee and something that is supposed to be light on our stomach if that becomes an issue.

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  25. I hear you on the pop not fulfilling your caffeine needs- i can drink dr. pepper at midnight and fall asleep five minutes later...

    to keep coffee low cal- i mix in skim milk and three packets of splenda- that tastes pretty good to me!

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  26. If it makes you feel any better, suing companies with almost identical names is not very fun, either - especially in the inevitable MSJ briefing.

    Monkey Business's trick is one I use at work when I am too lazy to walk a block to the many coffee places (ah, Portland) nearby. But I also add creamer and splenda, because no office coffee is decent enough otherwise.

    Starbucks coffee is tolerable in a way that McDonald's burgers are tolerable: you know exactly what to expect, but it's not great. The best way to do Starbucks is a frappacino with light blended coffee - hard to ruin. Also, a mocha with skim milk, WITH whipped cream, and some peppermint syrup. They do the special peppermint drinks for the holidays, but you can get a peppermint mocha anytime.

    There are some places in Portland with coffee so smooth it makes me want to leave home and run away with it. Heavenly stuff. I'm sure Austin has awesome places, as well, but I doubt they're chains.

    (Today was the day I started cutting back caffeine in the hopes of having given it up for good by the end of the month. Wish me luck!)

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  27. Good Austin coffee places where you can try stuff and they'll be nice about it: Flipnotics, The Hideout, Austin Java, Halcyon on 5th, Mozarts on Lake Austin. Mr. Angst (who didn't drink coffee until I started making him) also recommends Flightpath in Hyde Park.

    But yeah, basically start out drinking coffee-milk with lots of sweetener, and then ease off the milk and sweetener (or not!). I'd say avoid flavored coffees--I think they have a chemical taste--but flavored creamers are yummy.

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  28. I am a coffee-addict (I need a large amount of caffiene just to keep me alive and breathing so the stuff never keeps me awake) but I would suggest trying half hot chocolate and half coffee, at first. Maybe even add some more milk. But like someone else said, stay away from skim. You need at least 2%.

    Actually, try a Mocha Java, half coffee, half hot chocolate with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. Just not as a regular occurrence if you want to fit into your nice work clothes.

    Or try the flavoured coffees. Some of the syrups are sweetened and some aren't. If you find the flavoured coffees too syrupy/sweet, try 3/4 regular coffee and 1/4 flavoured. Then add milk or cream.

    BTW if you ever get to straight coffee, you can now buy Light Coffee Cream which has less fat than Blend, I think its something like 5%, which is pretty close to whole milk. I like milk in my tea but coffee really needs something more, either the blend or the light coffee cream.

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  29. I haven't read all the comments fully, so forgive me if I repeat. I too, have a touchy stomach, and coffee just makes it worse. I actually like the taste of coffee, but my stomach can't handle it. I am a tea drinker, as well. If you are truly just wanting more of a caffeine buzz, look for a stronger black tea (Taza Awake is really good) and use 2 bags instead of one. I would not force myself to drink coffee if you don't actually enjoy it; especially since black tea has so many antioxidants and is so good for you. And, really, drinking coffee all doctored up like everyone is suggesting will not give you anymore caffeine, since you will be drinking such a small amount of actual coffee.

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  30. go hardcore: drink a straight shot of espresso, black. afterward, nothing will taste like coffee.

    *curtsies*

    /love coffee.
    //have coffee belly.
    ///still love coffee.

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  31. Try spiking it with Bailey's. That's how I roll.

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  32. Hazelnut flavored Coffeemate. The End.

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  33. I also have the same stomach ache issues in the morning, and have since I was swimming in high school. I've just learned that my first meal of the day is going to be lunch despite the constant badgering that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. (It can't be THAT important if it makes me sick, right?) I also loathe and despise the smell and taste of coffee, and have never been able to eat food that has any sort of coffee/mocha type flavor. Have you tried switching to a different type of soda? Maybe one with a little more caffeine in it?

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  34. As a New Zealander, reading these comments is almost painful!

    Nooooooooooh!!!! The beverages described with syrups and weird mixes are not coffee!

    This is not the time for stereotyps but I regret to report that several comments play in to the stereotype that America has bad to awful coffee. "American Coffee" is like "American Cheese" Not at all the real thing.

    If you must, then I'd say go for a proper shop with the espresso machines, and a good barista, and order a cappucino (with one sugar) or a cafelatte or if you are really lucky, a "flat white", the queen of coffees here in New Zealand. Or even a perfect, ristretto espresso shot - the crema on the coffee is divine. But a good barista using a good machine is the most important thing.

    That said, honestly, you'll have more energy without caffeine. It's better for your health in the long term. Learning to drink coffee is like learning how to smoke cigarettes - best avoided.

    As a coffee- addicted person, I was amazed last night how good I felt when I went for my friday night swim. I had heaps more energy than usual- and then I realised - no coffee or diet coke had been drunk for 2 days.

    Drink more water. Try fizzy water for diet coke - your tastebuds will thank you. I think myself that the fizziness of the coke rather than the flavouring, caffeine and saccharine does the trick.

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  35. I hated coffee until about two years ago. Then I was camping in South Dakota, it was really cold, and the only warm beverage was coffee. After 3 cups, I no longer tasted the coffee-bitterness.

    That said, sometimes coffee gets to me in the mornings. I don't get any caffeine reaction from soda anymore. What works the best for me? Ocean Spray Cranergy juice. Cranberry juice with green tea and a boost of caffeine. Plus all the antioxidants and vitamins that come with the juice.

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  36. Divine Angst, as always, provides the best advice. I once read a study, though, saying that some people lack a certain enzyme in their mouths and if they don't have that particular enzyme they will hate coffee. Forever. So maybe try it a bit here and there, good mild coffees (NOT Starbucks), but if you find the flavor revolting, rejoice in the enormous variety of teas you have available to you.

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