Decaf dilemma

Just say "no" to corporate idiocy!

I drink a lot of coffee. I like coffee. I’ve tried giving it up. But that usually lasts from about 9p.m. to 6:30a.m. the following morning. Then I decide that it’s just not worth the head-ache (literally).

But it gives me a serious buzz. I’m like wired to the max on two shots of espresso. By the time I hit three, I’m shaking so badly I can’t tie my shoes, clasp my necklace or type anything that even remotely resembles meaningful communiqué.

Since I’ve been doing a show, I’ve been working late nights. So a hit or two of java mid afternoon doesn’t do anything to disturb my all too erratic sleeping patterns. But as things are winding down, I decided to cut out the afternoon caffeine infusions and stick to decaf after 3p.m.

Around 4:00 yesterday afternoon I strode into Starbucks and ordered an ordinary cup of decaffeinated coffee.

“Sorry,” said the insincere barrista, “But we don’t brew decaf coffee after 3p.m.”

“What?” I said, sure that I had fallen asleep for a nanosecond and dreamt the previous statement.

“I said,” continued the arrogant employee in a tone that suggested I was either partially deaf or suffering from some advanced form of mental derangement, “We don’t brew decaf after 3. You can order a decaf latte or espresso if you want.”

I quickly did the calculations in my head. A fru fru coffee drink would cost me upwards of three dollars, while a plain cup of joe would’ve run about a buck and a half. But it wasn’t the money that irked me so much. I really didn’t want an expensive, milk-frothed masterpiece. I wanted a simple, ordinary cup of decaf, like my grandmother would’ve enjoyed along with her late afternoon mandelbread snack.

But beyond my personal irritation, this is one of the most inane corporate policies I’ve ever heard. I mean, when do people most drink decaf? I’m guessing it’s not during morning drive time. Why would you refuse to serve decaffeinated coffee in the late afternoon when anyone with even a hint of common sense would be contemplating a good night’s sleep in less than four hours?

This line of reasoning ranks up there with my other caffeine related fave; the “we don’t serve decaffeinated iced tea here.” “Oh, do you have defaffeinated hot tea,” I’ll often inquire. At that I’ll usually get an affirmative response and a listing of five or so flavors of herbal tea that’s available hot.

OK, I’m no rocket scientist, but isn’t that what ice is for? Make the damn tea, then pour it over a glass of ice and voila, herbal iced tea. That doesn’t seem all that difficult to me.

There seems to be a certain inalienable idiocy surrounding decaffeinated drinks in this country, and one that needs to be addressed.

So here’s the bottom line, if you work in a restaurant and want to get good tips, think outside the box. If someone wants a hot drink served over ice, you can handle that. And if you’re a mega-corporate-coffee conglomerate, add a few pots of decaf to your afternoon repertoire. It’ll make people happy and allow them to sleep so that they can race thru your drive thru the next morning at 7a.m. and order those all too addictive venti, half caf, triple mocha, vanilla lattes that keep the establishment in the black.