Wednesday, November 08, 2006
GRACIAS, JUAN VALDEZ
This is the first thing I look forward to in the morning.
Beyond a certain age, people begin to spend more time pondering the Hereafter. They walk into a room, stop, look around and ask themselves, "Now, what am I here after?"
The Capt. found an article in a discarded USA Today at Barracuda Bob’s that he just had to bring home. It’s about our last remaining vice, and the benefits thereof. We talking about coffee, dear Reader. Preferably, in our case, the stronger and richer the better.
We consider coffee a vice simply we are addicted. We can get by, and usually do, on a couple of cappucinos a day, sometimes supplemented by black tea chai in the afternoon. Not extreme, compared to my old newspaper days when I downed ten cups a day brewed in a restaurant coffeemaker, along with chunks of bittersweet chocolate for an extra kick. It must be an addiction, if one morning without a single cup of coffee brings on excruciating headaches and irritability. Our brains are hardwired to require a caffeine charge. We have a joke around here that any task attempted before caffeination is risky and bound to fail.
We have shed all our other bad old addictions, and are living remarkably clean lives these days, except for the coffee. And now we find we may be better off to keep that one. The USA Today article reports that “the possible benefits of coffee now include decreased risks of: Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, suicide, liver damage in alcoholics and gallstones.” They go on to say that “people who drink coffee have a significantly reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.” Here they point out that the coffeine is not the magic ingredient in the diabetes results, and decaf will do the trick too. In the roasting process fats called quinides are produced that may affect blood-sugar control.
I’m not likely to resort to decaf. In my mind, that would be like taking a shower while wearing a raincoat. The Capt, however, will drink decaf in the evening, but then he’ll even guzzle Pemex coffee, the swill they serve at the Mexican gas stations. With nondairy creamer, yet! Ugh!
Here in San Carlos we are lucky enough to live a block away from Evie's, a coffeehouse with its own roaster. Last night the smell of roasting coffeebeans wafted through our kitchen window. They do a good French Roast, which is what we always buy. Forget the Irish Mist and Vanilla Hazelnut. "Entero, por favor," we say when Angelica weighs out our kilo of beans. Whole beans, please, not the ground stuff. The scream of the grinder is part of our wakeup process.
At least five elders on both sides of my family suffered from some form of degenerative brain disease, so I tend to to pay special attention to reports like this. Grabbing for the brass ring of hope, you might say. Lab mice, selected for a tendency toward a mouse disease much like Alzheimer’s, were fed coffee, while another group were given only water. The coffee-fed mice could still navigate through a maze even after symptoms appeared, while the water-drinkers were clueless. Just stood around staring at each other, I suppose, wondering what it was all about. As always, the article included the usual disclaimer phrase, “...falls short of scientific proof,” and probably the facts won’t be in until I’m long gone.
But it certainly gave me the urge to brew another cappucino.