I love coffee. Let me just put that on the table right from the get-go. Me and coffee, we were made for each other. It fuels my day. It makes me happy. It has accompanied me through many a coding journey.

At the same time, I recognize that I am an addict. How do I know? When I go away for the weekend to my Aunt & Uncle's (who don't drink coffee) summerhouse, as I tend to do in the summertime, I get headaches. This is a classic caffeine withdrawl symptom. But it's more than that -- I drink Coke, or Snapple, or tea, or other caffeinated beverages. Still that dull pain in the back of the head reminds me that I have forgotten to have a cup of the dark stuff. I don't want caffeine in just any old form. I want coffee.

So here is what bothers me, and feel free to dismiss this as YANAC (yet-another-node-about-coffee), but I view it as more of a philosophical problem. In fact, you can substitute (good) red wine or IPAs (two other beverages I dearly love and are integral parts of my life) for the above and it will be roughly equivalent. Except that in those cases the headaches come after I have lots of the drink in question. But I digress. The issue is: it bothers me that I don't know whether I like coffee primarily because of its active ingredient. I don't want to love coffee because it has caffeine in it. I want to love it because I love coffee.

The scientist part of me doesn't think this is a big deal, and keeps suggesting that I drink decaf for a while and see if I still enjoy the other pleasures as much, and that will be that. But I don't like decaf -- as Robert Frost said about writing poetry in blank verse, it's like playing tennis without a net. There's no sense of adventure, no visceral anticipation of the buzz, no social stigma or sense of drama. It reduces it to a mere beverage, like ordering a seltzer water. In short, it's not the same experience.

So I am at a loss. I sort of feel that an Eastern philosophy would be of help here (if I only knew more about Eastern philosophy), but I find that I am unable to separate my coffee-nature from my caffeine-nature.

I know it's fundamentally a nitpick, or maybe an ill-posed question, but I can't help that it bothers me. It's a bitter drink. It's not good for you. I hated it as a child despite the fact that it smelled really good. But now I love it. In fact I'm a coffee snob of sorts -- I vastly prefer the brew from my local independent coffee bar (a rarity in NYC) to the Starbucks, etc., superbrews. So I know that (as with wine or IPAs) I'm able to appreciate and enjoy qualities apart from the active ingredient, distinguish among brands, etc. But that doesn't mean I really like it by itself. Maybe I just prefer a certain delivery system.

The bottom line is, I suppose, that I don't like being an addict. I like being an afficionado. I want to be coffee lover, but only for the right reasons.

Talking of which, I could really use a cup just about now...

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