I drink decaf and Starbucks hates me. Honestly, the whole world seems to hate decaf drinkers. For several years now Starbucks has had a policy that they won’t brew decaf after noon. You can get a “pour-over” if you’re willing to wait for a few minutes–and get shoved around by the polluted coffee drinkers or forgotten by the baristas–or get an Americano. This morning I dropped by the Starbucks near work and they told me the new policy was that they don’t brew decaf at all. “People don’t buy it,” I was told.
You mean to tell me that for the almost 25 years I’ve been patronizing Starbucks, almost 10 of those as a decaf drinker, Starbucks has been throwing out gallons upon gallons of decaf? For decades Howard Schultz has allowed this money pit to continue? I don’t believe it. Although I will believe that the majority of Starbucks patrons never touch brewed coffee. In a pre-Starbucks world, they would not have been coffee drinkers at all.
To be fair, it isn’t just Starbucks. More and more I go into a coffee place and decaf isn’t even on the menu. At least Starbucks is willing to do a pour over. Most places just offer me an Americano “for the price of drip coffee” and the ignorant statement “it is just like regular coffee.”
No, it isn’t. There is a distinctly different flavor between two or three shots of espresso and water and a cup of brewed coffee. I happen to enjoy both, but I prefer my Americanos over ice.
The same can’t be said of the difference between decaf and regular coffee. Some coffee snobs will tell you they can tell the difference, but I don’t believe there are that many people with that sensitive a palate. I used to be one of those assholes, but now I know better. I drink decaf because I enjoy the taste of coffee.
Worse are the caffeinated masses who hear me order my decaf and feel compelled to say “what’s the point?” To which I say that if you are drinking coffee for the caffeine and not the taste or the pleasure of a hot cup of coffee, you’re just a junkie. You could save yourself a lot of money mainlining Folgers. If you truly prefer a cup of coffee brewed from beans ground recently, then don’t belittle me because I drink decaf. I’m enjoying the same thing you are without the increased heart rate and accompanying anxiety.
Last time I checked, Peets was still brewing decaf, although I buy almost exclusively iced coffee at Peets because that’s where I first learned to love it (Starbucks never did offer iced decaf). I’m sure if they haven’t already, they will soon join the no-decaf crowd. The coffee bar in my building still brews decaf, and people besides me drink it. For that, I am grateful.
I did recently start drinking a cup or two of regular coffee in the morning, usually in the form of a half-caf. The nice person at Starbucks did try to soften my ire by telling me that “at least you won’t have to wait as long, since you’re only getting half a cup of decaf.”
I suppose that’s true, unless your barista forgets me while she’s making the double-extra-shot-mocha-whatever for the umpteen people ahead of me in line.