I’m on day 8 of decaffeinating.
With everything, there’s a backstory. And mine has something to do with become a hobbiest coffee roaster. Not everything, but something.
I love coffee. I didn’t grow up drinking coffee. I always liked the smell. I can even remember once or twice having a mixture of roughly 1/3 coffee, 1/3 milk and 1/3 sugar. But I didn’t like it. I even made it through college without bowing to the bean for energy to get through late-night study sessions.
I remember the first cup of coffee I ever enjoyed. When I was a senior in college, I went through a series of interviews with an ad agency in New York. Across the street from its offices was a Chock Full o’Nuts. I stopped in there for breakfast before each day of interviews. The smell of the coffee was incredible, and I can vividly remember the flavor.
I can also remember the most momentous cup of coffee I ever drank. Same set of interviews. My primary contact at the interviewing agency was the retired Chairman of the Board. The first day of interviews, I was taken to his office where he asked me, “would you like a cup of coffee?” I had been told proper etiquette was to ask, “are you having a cup?” He said he was so I said, “then I’ll have one, too.” It was a very nice office looking down the length of Madison Avenue and I expected him to have his own coffee maker in there somewhere. I didn’t expect him to make a call and, in under 3 minutes, a coffee service to be rolled in and served. You can take the boy out of the country…
But even after the Chock Full o’Nuts and the coffee cart experiences, I didn’t become a coffee drinker. I started drinking coffee on a regular basis purely as a business decision. On my first job, most meetings were “let’s grab a cup of coffee and talk about it.” If you came to the meeting without a cup, you were asked again, “hey, don’t you want a cup of coffee?” I relented, and decided if I was going to start drinking coffee, it would be straight. No time for cream and sugar. Give it to me black!
Through the years, I developed a real love for coffee – which gets me back to roasting. Earlier this year, I started roasting my own beans. It’s a great hobby for a number of reasons, the best being that at the end of the process is a nice, fresh cup of the most delicious coffee. There is really nothing like fresh-roasted coffee. The cup of Starbucks you drink was made from beans roasted 3-6 months ago. The apex of flavor of a roasted coffee bean is 4-8 days.
(I’ll write more about roasting in later posts. There’s a lot to write about.)
When I started roasting, I started drinking more and more coffee. It is just so tasty, and different beans from different parts of the world have so many different flavor nuances. But more and more coffee came more and more caffeine…and irritability. An edge. Think Squidward Tentacles. And I even started having difficulty sleeping.
So decaffeination became a necessary experiment. On day 8, I’m feeling better, brighter. A kinder, gentler me. And I’m sleeping like a baby.
I’m not leaving caffeine forever. There are far too many good coffee beans that are not decaffeinated. But there are also some great decaf green beans. This morning, I was rewarded with my first really good cup of fresh-roasted decaf – a Honduras FTO (Fair Trade Organic) Ocotopeque WP (Water-pressed) Decaf. It is very nutty, with hints of hazelnut, dry-roasted peanut and some caramel. It has a dry finish, and isn’t over-the-top flavorful. Simple. Solid.
The best part is that I have two more decafs that I roasted yesterday waiting. Three more days to peak!