I don’t know about you, but I think it’s been a long week. It’s been the kind of long week that leaves me wondering about the fastest and most efficient ways to pump caffeine into my system. It’s been the kind of long week that makes me wonder if maybe I could shotgun some Coca-Cola for breakfast.
Caffeine, ah nectar of the gods. Caffeine evolved in plants as an anti-herbivore defense; the chemical was present to ward off insects that might eat the leaves. Apparently, caffeine can paralyze and kill insects just chowing down on things like the leaves of a tea plant.
But humans? We love it, we crave it, we develop mild addictions which result in headaches when we get a break from the stuff. I’ll be honest though: I was resistant to caffeine’s charms for many years, preferring to plow through on sheer willpower alone. This was not an acceptable solution once I got to college (mild caffeine required) and graduate school (mega caffeine required).
The unfortunate part of caffeine is that it tastes bitter. You know, it makes things really a kind of acquired taste. Like, coffee always smells amazing, but the first time I had a cup, I was wildly disappointed that the rich aroma did not translate to the flavor of the liquid. Sometimes, finding an appropriate vessel for your caffeine can be hard.
This task is complicated by the fact that there can be some sensitivity to the effects of caffeine ““ the first time I had an espresso, my hand shook and I got cold sweats. It was an adventure! My tolerance has built up since then, but experiences like that keep me from getting too friendly with bottles of Red Bull ““ it might give you wings, but it gives me heart palpitations.
Fortunately, there’s lots of caffeine I like. I like soda (shock! Horror!). No, actually, that aside might be accurate. Soda is obviously not the healthiest thing in the world, but combine carbonation with caffeine and you’ve got a winner in my book.
Then there’s the ever-trusted coffee. Mocha java? F-in’ delicious. This odd yet pleasing Peruvian Blend (that’s the name, folks, at the coffee shop I frequent )? I love it. I’m not strong enough to drink it black, so I get some soy milk and sometimes a little sugar to lighten it up just a smidge.
And lately I’ve been diving head first into the world of teas. Yerba mate (a type of holly plant, not technically a tea plant) has enough caffeine to power an average me for about 6 hours, give or take. Plain black or green teas are fantastically peppy, too. Herbal teas can be ignored, delicious as they can be, in favor of their caffeinated cousins. The past few months have been mostly tea for me, and the switch from coffee has for the most part gone pretty well. I doubt I can abandon coffee forever, but now ’tis the season of the jasmine-infused green tea.
If all those liquid options fail, I can always get some coffee-covered espresso beans ““ they’re delicious and caffeinated. Doubly caffeinated actually, since both the chocolate and the bean contain a little hit. It’s easy to develop an unhealthy love of that snack, regardless of any potential caffeine-related side effects.
How do you get your caffeine? Does time of day/year dictate your choices? Who here drinks their coffee black?