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Summit Up


Good morning and welcome to Summit Up, the world’s only daily column struggling to make peace with coffee in all its forms.

We had our cup and a half of decaffeinated coffee this morning and wondered what the point was. Is it truly one of life’s little pleasures? Is it really “good to the last drop?”

Decaf became our coffee of choice during a period of intense life stress. Before deciding to shift to the low-octane drink, we found ourselves drinking more and more high-test as a way of coping with the day’s challenges. By the time we were drinking eight or 10 cups a day, complete with blobs of non-dairy coffee creamer (which, we think, is actually a petroleum by-product), we realized that it sure wasn’t having the effect we were looking for.

So we swore off all of it. The first couple of days without the brown elixir were hellish, but we survived. We started sipping green tea in the morning instead. It’s supposed to be very good for you, we heard.

Then one day, we were back at our favorite coffee shop and the aroma of the place overwhelmed us. We just had to have some coffee. Even scientists admit the coffee smell is one of the most potent for human beings ” more potent even than the smell of bacon!

We had a cup of decaf. It didn’t taste very good, but we persevered. And now, two months later, we’re having at least a cup a day.

We’re still in denial, though. We buy the cheapest, ground decaf beans we can find. We use an ill-fitting filter in a plastic single-cup drip cone to make the coffee. We’re ashamed to confess that we’re also back at the coffee shop almost every day, hoping no one will see us.

Honestly, it’s decaf. Does it count? Are we the same as all those suburban teenagers who blow their allowances on super-duper-veinte caramel macchiatos at Starbucks? And why is “tall” the smallest cup size at Starbucks, anyway?

We know there’s some caffeine in decaf, because we can feel it. We wonder if it’s enough to put our morning drink in the same category as heroin.

Roland Griffiths, professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins, had unequivocal words to say about America’s favorite pick-me-up.

“We need to recognize that caffeine really is a drug and accord it respect as a drug. People need to know what it does when they take it, and what it does when they cease to take it, and make an adult decision about that,” he said.

When he says “drug,” does he mean Ibuprofen or cocaine? And are we making an “adult decision”?


It’s Sunday folks, and we’re on our back porch with cup in hand.

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