August 26, 2009

Java Script

[Cue 2001: A Space Odyssey theme] BUM bum BUM bum BUM bum...

Anyone crazy enough to follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook might have noticed me wrestling with coffee recently. As part of my Radventure scheme, I thought it would be no big deal to cut out caffeine cold turkey, despite the fact that it had been my habit to consume one (large Marge) cup of coffee and 1-2 cups of green tea daily.

Someone should have started an over/under pool as to how long I'd last! I barely made it through the week before persistent headaches drove me to the deli below my office out of desperation, where I more or less chugged a small cup of very strong French Roast, sweetened with Sugar in the Raw and lightened with half & half.

The irony here is that the way I make my own coffee at home (which I dutifully tote to the office each day in a travel mug) is far healthier than the $1.10 version I inhaled at the deli. I use organic coffee, sweetened with agave and lightened with unsweetened hemp milk. I have also recently discovered Teeccino, an herbal coffee substitute that I adore.

You have to really like carob in order to enjoy Teeccino, but since I do, I think it's a delicious drink. Frankly, it doesn't taste especially similar to coffee at all, but it's really good in its own right and contains a host of great ingredients with their own health benefits--each cup delivers a hearty dose of antioxidants and is as alkaline as any herbal tea (something that cannot be said for coffee, which is highly acidic).

Just brew it like you would any other coffee grounds and you've got a lovely coffee-ish beverage. I have tried the original and mocha flavors and liked them both (couldn't distinguish much of a difference between the two), but you can choose a free sample for yourself at Teeccino's website! And I'm most certainly not paid to say that, or anything else, for that matter--I just like Teeccino.

My favorite way to enjoy it right now is to substitute Teeccino for half of the coffee grounds I'd normally use for my morning dose of joe, which probably equals about 1.5 standard-sized mugs. I don't measure it, since I've been making coffee for this specific travel mug so long, but that probably means about two teaspoons of each of these:

Using this method, I get a nicely-flavored cup of coffee with half the caffeine jolt (half-lack of which is not detectable) I'd been getting before trying to cheat on the java with a sad 8 ounces of juice leftover from the early morning and saved for my arrival at the office. My neurons were not fooled when I tried that, and they refused to fire accordingly.

The change that has stuck is the juice. I make a big juice at about 6:00am each morning and love it. I get through 30-60 minutes of working out with plenty of energy and no hunger pangs. On the flip side, I've all but given up the green tea, but not especially on purpose. I think this is due to a) the recent changes in my routine and b) the fact that New York City is currently under an environmental broiler of sorts. I guess that would be the sun.

There has been a lot of buzz (pun intented) about the health benefits of green tea in recent years. In fact, MizFit posted a number of its virtues just today. I developed a taste for it during my year living in Asia and have been smuggling the good stuff to the States via my expat parents ever since. Again, I didn't deliberately give up green tea, and I do believe in its benefits, aside from caffeine addiction. Plus it's just damn tasty!

The core of my personal debate is this: Do I continue to enjoy coffee (and green tea) while feeling guilty about it acidifying my system and hindering the release of toxins? Or do I tough it out long enough to get over the caffeine addiction and then stick to herbal teas?

  1. Tastes delicious, like happy in a cup.
  2. Prevents aforementioned headaches.
  3. Makes me alert and focused.
  4. Brings out my social side, which is all but DOA pre-coffee, as far as the office is concerned.
  5. Gives me a mood boost for no particular reason.
  6. SELF Magazine says it's good for me.
  7. If #6 sounds lame, see #1.
  1. Coffee is acidic, which is no good for the belly.
  2. Caffeine is addictive.
  3. ...
  4. Caffeine is addictive.
Obviously, the pros of coffee outweigh the cons, at least by my own (questionable) judgement. It's a decision everyone has to make for themselves, but at least for the time being, the simple fact that I consume low-to-moderate amounts of any caffeinated drink in a given day is enough to convince me that this is not a necessary battle. If anything, I'm benefiting from it.

Here are the abbreviated points in coffee's favor, according to SELF:
  • Coffee drinkers may be less prone to develop Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases
  • Caffeinated coffee may prevent cavities and/or oral cancer
  • Drinking 4 cups daily may reduce risk of breast cancer (that's a lot of coffee, though!)
  • Two or more cups daily may reduce chance of gallstones
  • Two to five cups daily may reduce risk of melanoma
  • Three to four cups of regular OR decaf coffee daily may make you less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes
The fact is that I love coffee and would consider my one mug a pleasant (if not joyful!) addition to my day. Until someone can prove to me that I am shaving years off my life with two daily teaspoons of organic coffee, I don't think I have anything to worry about.

Et tu? Where do you weigh in on the caffeine scale?



Anonymous said...

I like the taste of coffee, not necessarily the caffeine in it.

Katrina said...

I have quit and come back to coffee so many times. When it all comes down to it, I simply enjoy the taste and feel of a hot, steamy mug of goodness in the morning. If you don't get heart palpitations or have trouble sleeping, then I say enjoy your coffee! You deserve it!

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) said...

I cannot do Teecino b/c it contains a whole bunch of gluten between the carob and the barley so that's out. Therefore, I just go with my coffee addiction. I call it for what it is. I am high raw, all vegan, to use some buzz words there :) and if coffee is my one vice (I don't drink alcohol anymore) then so be it! I love it, I love the warm happy mood, I love the warm liquid, I actually *need* the caffeine jolt to help get me thru my days in a way that all the juiced kale just ain't gonna cut it for me. Anyway, I say if you like it and it works for you, drink up sista!

Anonymous said...

I'm totally agree with you about the pro and cons of coffee and I think as long as I keep it to one cup per day and not after any meal... i'm fine! You is too short to not enjoy, especially with something that's controversial about its benefits/harms.
That tecchni sounds good... I'll look for it! :)

Dori said...

First, I NEED to get some Teeccino! I love carob and what I miss most is having a hot cup of _____ in the morning.

I largely quit coffee once I started juicing. I just didn't need it or want it anymore. But every now and then I am extra tired or have a craving, and I will get a coffee. I don't feel at all guilty because it is not an every day thing, and depriving myself would make it all much worse.

Yes, coffee has its negatives. I also believe it has some (not as many) positives, but I feel fine drinking it when I really want it. Not every day.

fitforfree said...

Ohhhh coffee. I quit it about once a year, just to prove that I "don't need it" -- but I'm kidding myself! I can subsist without coffee in a world where I can sleep according to sleep cycles and not alarm clock, don't get kept awake by loud neighbors watching "the game," and veg out all day rather than doing piles of work . . .

That being said, in the (brief) times I eat 100% raw, coffee sounds disgusting to my taste buds.

K from ksgoodeats said...

As a big, HUGE coffee/mocha fan I really appreciate the Teeccino heads up! I think it sounds like a fun change! I'm lucky in that caffeine doesn't affect me too much and I limit myself to two cups (okay bowls) of coffee every morning so I don't plan on giving up the java :)

brandi said...

if you enjoy it, I say go for it. I love good coffee and I don't have a pot full every day or anything. 2 tsp is fine, I think. Especially if it's something you really enjoy and would like to have.

Gena said...

Ah, a post near and dear to my heart. Glad you wrote about this!

My take? I don't think coffee is "good for us." I think it's a whole lot less awful than some of the other stuff we shovel in our bodies, and it tastes really freakin' awesome, too. For me, it's an elected evil -- when I really want a taste of it, I have some. I certainly don't think I'm doing my body any favors, but I'm hardly assaulting it, either.


Sky said...

i say keep drinkin! at one time or another some corporation or some person has said everything is bad. i think key is moderation. oh and have you ever thought about slowly switching over to decaf?

Diana said...

Sky -

I don't object to the idea of decaf, but I'm not especially motivated to switch either. Since I drink the regular strength stuff in such small quantities, I will just enjoy whatever caffeine hit I do get!

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) said...

I just did a post on coffee

And linked your little discussion :)

Also put in my post what my contact at a fair trade, organic coffee company has to say about the acidic conundrum.

Anyway love the coffee discussion!

Erica said...

I tried to give up coffee during my clean month experiment and will never do it again haha. I just love coffee....its ok to have a vice or two...I think anyways :) Where did you get the Teeccino??? I so want to try that

Diana said...

Averie -

Thanks! Will check it out, stat.

Erica -

I found Teeccino at Whole Foods as well as at little local health food stores, but you can always order online!

katherine said...

Great post and I appreciate your comments on the Teecino stuff. I'm not a huge fan of carob so I imagine it would be a stretch for me to swap out my joe for the stuff.

I, thankfully, am not totally hooked on coffee but I do enjoy it when I'm in the mood for it. I had coffee a few times last week b/c I was totally craving it. But, by the end of the week, I just wanted my juice!!

Shannon said...

luckily i don't drink the stuff :) i think if it's something you enjoy, don't give it up. you seemed to have found something that's a better option, so at least you're making the right choice!

Jenny said...

i've limited myself to 1 cup/day.. one of the greatest challenges i've ever faced.

elise said...

carob figs and dates!?! i want to go to there!

Pam said...

I love Teeccino good!

Nice blog you have!