Soapbox: Decaf Coffee

Image Credit: Laoise Tarrant

I know what you’re thinking; ‘yeah, I’ll read this, I also hate decaf'.

'Why would anyone want coffee without a kick? It tastes rubbish too’. Honestly, your snap judgement is a little rude. This piece isn’t bemoaning the fact that decaf exists; it resents its sparsity. Spare a thought for those of us who must seek out decaf, who don’t have an alternative. We know it tastes crap, but we just can’t help it. We deserve our cup of comfort too.

I would like to point out that I had no choice in the matter. Life (and a rupturing appendix) struck me down in my prime and my body decided that it could no longer take the delicious rush of caffeine coursing through my veins. It took a lot of pain and investigation to figure out it was caffeine that was physically ruining my life. Imagine a kidney infection, but worse. I have to admit I was pretty glad that it wasn’t sugar, alcohol, gluten, or any other illicit joys causing my body to feel as though it had been set on fire. Regardless, I have become completely incompatible with the stimulant. 

The result is that whenever I want a delicious warm beverage on campus, I have to trudge around looking for a cafe to suit my needs. If you want a decaf coffee you can either trek to Starbucks in the Quinn School of Business, or dander to the Poolside Cafe in the Sports Centre. That’s it. And, not to name any names, but one of those options is terrible and the latter is fine. Whatever about coffee, nevermind looking for a humble decaffeinated breakfast tea. Where do you think you are? Trinity?

Forgive me, waiters and baristas alike, I know that I will ask for an awkward order. It is only to save myself from feeling like I’ve been Litvinenko-ed. When people ask why do I even bother, without the caffeinated zing, I answer that it is because of the comfort and support it provides. Warm beverages are a hug in your hand. Small cups of socialising. 

I’m sorry UCD but how difficult would it be to supply a few more decaffeinated options around campus? Not only would it benefit all those abstaining, but it would save the jittery hands and frazzled nerves of the student sitting next to you in the library, fueled by fear, insomnia, and one-too-many coffees. 

I still ‘need’ a coffee in the morning and my cuppa tea in the evening. No one wants Chamomile infusion at 2pm while cramming for an MCQ. I am absolutely and unreservedly willing to submit to the power of the placebo. There is nothing like a steaming coffee refuel during exam time. But even with the placebo it’s just not the same, and frankly decaf coffee often tastes like fermented dishwater. A decaffeinated life is my burden to carry, and I shall do so begrudgingly. 

Of course there are other natural stimulants for alertness and productivity. These, however, would not be generally accepted in the library.