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Parents and Coffee: How Caffeinated Are You?

Erin Zammett Ruddy

Tomorrow is National Coffee Day. In honor of this major holiday, I thought I’d take an informal poll to see where I fall on the mom caffeine spectrum (she said, sipping a giant steaming Styrofoam cup from Dunkin Donuts).

I’m not obsessed with caffeine, per se, but I love coffee (skim milk, no sugar), iced lattes (same way), unsweetened iced tea (with lemon) and the occasional diet coke—preferably fountain, especially if I’m fuzzy-headed from a cold or, um, too-much wine the night before. I am not a tired person in general—I clock plenty of zzzs on most nights—but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love the energy boost I get from my daily drinks. Still, when it comes to coffee that’s not really what it’s about for me (she said, sipping a giant steaming Styrofoam cup of caffeine). With coffee, I’m into the ritual, the routine, the anticipation, even. I saw one of those ecards on facebook the other day that read:

“Sometimes I look forward to going to bed at night because when I wake up, I get coffee.”

I am totally guilty of this (and if I know that coffee will be paired with an everything bagel with scallion cream cheese, I will go to bed at 9:30 just so I can get to the morning faster). I'm not a five-cup-a-day kinda person, but I love coffee. I love the flavor of it, the smell of it, the feel of a hot cup in my hands. And I love my mug, the one I’ve been using for over eight years (it’s from Daisy Dog Studio, which used to be in Tribeca near my old apartment—gorgeous stuff!). Only I don’t love the coffee in my house, which gets tricky. We switched to a Keurig a few years ago and I’m so over it. It’s not just that the K cups we buy are weak and bitter, it’s that the coffee never seems to come out hot enough so my mug goes right from the Keurig to the microwave. Ugh. We could probably clean it out and get it working better but, for now, I choke it down or I sneak out for store-bought whenever I can. And we all know how that adds up (I actually started feeling so guilty that I took a loose change jar into my car and only allow myself to purchase coffee with quarters and dimes and nickels—classy!). But I think we’re ready to go back to the old fashioned pot-o-coffee. I work from home afterall, so there’s no need for speed. And I had an eye-opening (no pun intended) coffee pot experience this summer.

During our August week in New Hampshire, we had to bring our own grinds to the condo we’d rented (they had the maker there). A few weeks earlier I had gotten some Gevalia coffee sent to the house—one of the many perks of being a freelance writer is samples of fun things often show up on my doorstep. Gevalia is a Swedish brand (available in stores here and online) with pretty packaging but I had never tried it before. When we loaded up the car, I tossed in the little bag of regular for me, and the decaf for my mom. We loved it. And drinking hot, bold-but-not bitter coffee every morning on vacation made me realize I’d been short-changing myself back home. Is there anything better than waking up and two-handing a mug of (damn good) coffee out on a deck overlooking a lake? Then topping your mug off with a little more? I had brought up some zucchini bread I’d made from our garden and the combination was to die for. Of course it helped that my mom had the pot brewing before I even woke up, but still, I felt like I could have been in one of those cheesy/earnest/tear-jerking coffee commercials (if I’d put on a bra and brushed my hair).

I think moms in particular love their coffee, right? Especially in the sleep-deprived early days it can be a life-saver. I have one friend who didn’t even drink coffee until she had a kid. Now she cherishes her morning (and afternoon) cup. I also have mom friends who don't drink coffee, which baffles me--less for the caffeine thing (I get why you might not want the heart palpitations) but how can they pass up the flavor and the ritual? I generally have one cup of coffee in the morning (I try to get mediums if I’m buying them out because a large, while delish, is just too much of a jolt) and then with lunch I may have an iced tea or a DC. Or water, usually. I try not to overdo it with the caffeine but sometimes it happens. If I’m in the city for meetings, I totally OD and will eventually opt for decaf, especially if I start talking crazy-fast, which happens after a few too many. But I’m curious to see where I fall on the caffeine spectrum. How much do you drink? What’s your form? Are you happy with your current coffee situation? Do you make it at home or pick it up out? In honor of National Coffee Day tomorrow, we will be setting up our old-fashioned coffee maker first thing. Can’t wait! Happy Friday, everyone! And Happy Coffee Day!