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19 February 2008

Wake Up, Smell the Coffee

Disaster struck this morning when I reached into the mug in my cupboard in which I store my Nespresso pods and realised that the last pod in the mug was decaf (which came in the sample pack when I bought the machine). Oh noes! Worse still, there were supposed to be three decaf pods at the bottom of the mug and somewhere along the way, I must have drunk them without realising I was drinking decaf, which means I am colour blind (or at least just inattentive) as well as a victim of the placebo effect. Now, this is actually a pretty reasonable experiment because I must have drunk the two decaf shots at some point in the past two weeks and yet there is no single day when I was noticeably more tired or less alert than any others (this being relative, given that my default state tends towards exhausted, most of the time), so surely my caffeine addiction is all in the mind.

I couldn't face instant this morning so I went ahead and prepared myself a decaf espresso, knowing full well that it was decaf and yet once again, it perked me up as much as on any other day. Perhaps, then, it's not simply a placebo effect but that the smell of the coffee is enough to wake me up and drinking the stuff doesn't actually make any difference. Obviously, I didn't keep a record of how much sleep I got each night, although this figure rarely varies much from six hours, although more like eight at the weekend.

Of course, I drink coffee because I love the taste and because some part of the coffee-making/drinking process keeps me from sinking into a state of constant narcolepsy. Still, I always say that I don't like to drink decaf because it doesn't taste as good as regular coffee (which is plausible, given that the process of decaffeination messes with the flavour), I didn't notice any difference on those two days when I blind-tested myself. Again, maybe because I wasn't expecting to taste a difference or because I have been trying a few different flavours of Nespresso pod recently and so might have put down any differences to this.

I would try to test out my theories but I would need an accomplice to keep a record of whether I was drinking the placebo or the actual elixir and I try to avoid Doktor Landlord in the mornings because he is most definitely not a morning person (except when he's shagging in the shower) and would probably attempt to sabotage my pods.

At least Nestlé have been keeping themselves busy when they aren't persuading A-list celebrities to convince the world that they too can have a luxury, lifestyle brand with none of those nasty, non-PLU Nescafé connotations; busy creating a machine that can carry out human-like "taste tests" on coffee. If they're short of coffee tasters they need only ask...

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