Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Paris Coffee Blues

Parisian tea drinkers circa 1925
When in Paris, do as the Parisians do--drink café!

And that’s what I’ve done for the 20-some years I’ve lived here. First of all, it’s delicious. Second, in a café it’s the cheapest thing to buy (that secures rights to the restrooms). Third, decent coffee is everywhere.

With the birth of my child and office job (sleep deprivation on two counts), I upped the ante. And it became too easy when my workplace installed all-you-can-drink Nespresso machines. One cup of espresso became a double. A double became a triple.

As George Clooney might say, “What else?”

I've read all kinds of studies about the good and bad effects of coffee, and the jury’s still out.

But one jurist started to scream--my body. I reached some sort of tipping point. My stomach gurgled, and I felt I was running on empty all time. I was more exhausted than ever!

In January, I resolved to cut back to once a week, which I’ve done! Check! But as I ratcheted down, my body became even more sensitive to the caffeine--and the acid.

So I resolved to allow myself just a few sips, for example, when my husband makes his mug of java with his amazing Aeropress machine. (The best coffee ever!)

Yesterday, after abstaining for a good week, I had five small sips from the weakest espresso I could draw. It was Friday afternoon. The week had been long and I was flagging. The vitamins didn’t do the trick, and neither did the herbal Rooibos tea, which I’ve grown to like.

As a result, I went to bed at midnight and woke at 5 a.m., bursting with fuzzy edgy energy and the familiar stomach grind. I reached for the Gaviscon and tried to sleep an hour more. No beans. A coffee hangover.

What else?

I hereby resign myself to end my coffee habit, but it won’t be easy.

Thank goodness that in France, there is something else. The country has some wonderful herbal teas that are unusual in the U.S.: “tilleuil,” (made from lime tree leaves, though ridiculously heard to pronounce; sounds like "tea oil") and “verveine,” (made from leaves of the verbena plant).

These days, when I go to a café, I look at the bartender and woefully say “un infusion, s’il vous plaît.” (An herbal tea please!) I’m waiting for him to say, “Quoi d’autre?” (“What else?”) Fat chance. ("Pas de chance.")