The rise of decaf: why are people giving up all the jittery fun of coffee? | Food

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Name: Decaffeinated coffee.

Age: Patented by Ludwig Roselius in 1906.

Appearance: All the taste of coffee, without the point of coffee.

Ah, decaffeinated coffee, the Alien vs Predator of brown liquid. Well, hang on a second. Plenty of people like decaf.

Like who? Like people who enjoy the taste of coffee.

Nobody likes the taste of coffee, you bozo. It’s a pick-me-up. It’s the acceptable form of licking a battery in public. What if I told you that more and more people are adopting decaf as their drink of choice?

I would ask for proof. OK: Lisa Lawson, the founder of Dear Green Coffee in Glasgow, told the Times her decaf sales had tripled since 2017.

Anything else? According to the researcher Kantar Worldpanel, sales of instant decaf are up 20% compared with two years ago.

Why, though? Decaf is so disappointing. Apparently, coffee is keeping people awake.

Again, that’s the point of coffee. It’s a ritual. The brew, the pour, the endless sleepless nights spent grinding your teeth to a fine dust. Do you have a problem?

No. I enjoy constantly feeling like I’m on the verge on a coronary. You’re in the minority. People take care over the production of decaf now. A decade ago, it all tasted disgusting. Now, there are some really nice ones.

Name one. To give you an example, the coffee website The Coffee Bazaar recently reviewed Decadent Decaf Coffee Company’s Indonesian Sumatra and said: “Only a pro coffee taster would be able to tell the difference between this and a normal coffee.”

I’m still not sure. That’s because you’re stuck in the past, my friend. Coffee shops are replacing pubs as the primary community hubs; if we all sat around drinking obscenely strong coffee all day, we would be twitchy, paranoid messes.

We have Brexit for that already. Exactly. In any case, it’s important to factor in highs and lows when calculating your daily coffee intake. Sometimes you need a decaf to take the edge off a caffeine buzz; sometimes you need a caffeinated boost after too much decaf.

Alternating uppers and downers. Just like Elvis in his fat period. That’s right, now you’re getting it.

This is an outrage. Coffee is coffee and people who don’t like it should stick to water. You seem on edge. How much coffee have you drunk today?

Four pints, so far. OK. Here’s some decaf. You sip this, I’ll call an ambulance.

Do say: “I don’t want to be kept awake by caffeine any more.”

Don’t say: “I’ll stick to being kept awake by the endless nightmare of life on Earth.”


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