This blog and my newspaper column, which ran in local newspapers from 1993 until late last year when it became a victim of the bad economy, is called Over Coffee. As I explained in one my early columns, I got the name from another column that ran in the Edinburg Daily Courier, my hometown newspaper, in the late 1960s. I wrote a daily weather forecast and almanac piece in the paper back then and the Over Coffee column contained some of the ramblings of my editor, Bill Hale.
Anyway, I have been drinking coffee since I was five years old. Back then, I took it with a lot of cream and a lot of sugar. I still do, except replace the sugar with artificial sweetener. I also loved, and still enjoy from time to time, a concoction made by crumbling a biscuit into overly-sweet coffee and cream with a tad of butter. Don’t laugh until you try it.
Throughout my young adult life, and up until the time I was in my early 40s, I didn’t think much about caffeine. I drank regular coffee or decaf; it made no difference to me. My father was a decaf drinker. He said caffeine made him nervous.
Then, I started developing some anxiety. I even had a panic attack occasionally. As they became more numerous, my doctor advised eliminating caffeine. I also have had a heart arrhythmia since I was 18. It is exacerbated by too much caffeine. And the effects started to become more pronounced as I grew older.
So now, I avoid caffeine like the plague. I still like coffee in the morning, but usually one or two cups will do. I’m not one of those people who have to have a cup next to them all day. But I make sure I always drink decaffeinated coffee and caffeine-free soft drinks.
So when I order coffee in a restaurant, I always ask the waitress when she brings it to me if, indeed, the cup contains decaf. I don’t want to be rude, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
There is a new Dunkin’ Donuts franchise that opened in downtown Indianapolis recently and I’ve started to drop by on Friday mornings on my way to work for a cup of decaf and a donut. Sometimes I’ll stop on Thursdays, too. But the first time I stopped, I happened to notice the server pouring regular coffee. She brought it to me and I told her I had ordered decaf.
Well, she replaced it and apologized. But the next time I stopped in for my donut and coffee, the same thing happened. I figured I better make sure I watch what they pour from now on.
It’s a good thing, because for seven times in a row I ordered decaf and the lady behind the counter always poured regular. It got to the point where I would tell them the number of times in a row it had happened, and they started taking off the price of my donut from the order.
I’m all for free donuts, but one should not have to keep a constant vigil on the professional coffee pourers to make sure they are giving you what you order. They probably think that decaf is just a preference for me and that having to drink regular coffee is no big deal. But it is.
If I drank a large cup of regular coffee, it would most likely trigger a panic attack and heart arrhythmia at work. It is a health concern. Servers who work in restaurants or behind the counter of donut shops should keep that in mind when serving coffee to their customers. For most, it’s probably not a huge deal. For others, like me, it can make a big difference to our well being.