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Having My Latte and Drinking It Too

(post, Trista Cornelius)

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I'm still working off my coffee addiction.  A few weeks ago, I had my first meeting at a coffee shop.  During the walk there, I fretted about what to order.  A few blocks before the shop, I knew what to get and was surprised at how satisfied I felt with steamed soy milk and vanilla.  Now, the physical withdrawals seem to be subsiding, but the emotional longing has reared up as fervent as ever.  I still loooove coffee, but I know it's too soon to imbibe.  Here's why:

I finally decided to let myself have caffeine-free substitutes.  After both of my parents described fond childhood memories of "Postum," my dad saying he felt mature drinking Postum because it seemed more like coffee than Ovaltine (See, we start learning to love coffee young in this family!), I decided to buy some.  

My favorite health food store did not have Postum, but they had Pero and Teccino.  A clerk suggested Teccino, saying it has "a following," but when she said I could return the drink if, after trying it, I was sure I'd never use it again, I decided to buy both.  

After peeling back the gold foil under the lid, Pero looks a lot like instant coffee.  However, both the label and my food encyclopedia confirm that Pero is totally stimulant free.  It's made of barely and chicory, which is a flower described lovingly by the encyclopedia and noted for its medicinal benefits.  

Short story—it’s good.  Well, I think it’s good because I’m wildly desperate for coffee and this looks, sort of smells, and tastes like coffee, not the medium roasted rich stuff I slogged so hoggishly until just weeks ago, but like diner coffee.   I added a drop of agave nectar and a slosh of soy creamer and relaxed into my first cup.  

By the way, this was my first measured cup.  I mean, I actually measured one cup of hot water and poured it into my mug with one heaping teaspoon of Pero like the directions said.  The liquid came two inches short of the rim of a mug I deemed too small for coffee.  This is one cup?  Oh my.  Oh.  My.  

Later that day, I made a second cup of Pero.  Still measured, this time with a bit of honey and of course the soy creamer which may prove as much of an addiction as the coffee!  Two cups of caffeine-free substitute.  This may seem like no big deal to you, but to me, I realized I was on the edge of returning to my coffee habit because I turned to Pero for the same reasons I turned to coffee:  to alter my mood, lift my spirits a little, dust me off and nudge me back into the game, you know?  

Still struggling to muster my own resolve, I keep seeking solace in a cup.  Pero might be caffeine-free, even medicinal, but two cups turns into three…and of course I had to have it the next day…and the next.  Is it okay to need a cuppa’ every day?  I mean, do those of you who drink coffee or tea (caffeine or not) every day wake up thinking about it?  Do you think about it to get you through the next hour?  I used to get myself out of bed in time for yoga by telling myself I could have a cup of coffee before class.  Then, during a slump in yoga practice, I’d rally myself by remembering I could have a cup of coffee when I got home!  

Pero is tasty, and I have yet to try Teccino.  But even as banished as it is, coffee has its hold over me, luring me to the substitutes, reminding me of how much more than just taste and warmth a cup of coffee offers.