Monday, November 17, 2008

Decaf, Half-Caf, Whatever

This weekend I had an annoying headache for much of Sunday, which I'm attributing to caffeine withdrawal. I had switched to half-caf at work to avoid just such a thing, but when I drink 2–3 half-caf cups of coffee every day, they add up. Forrest suggested I do a taste test to see if I can even tell the difference between half-caf and decaf, and switch to the latter if I can't.

So I enlisted my friend Hugh's help in doing a single-blind taste test between half-caf and decaf. (I didn't compare them against regular coffee, since I'm perfectly happy with half-caf and don't want to discover now that I actually prefer the fully leaded version. I'm looking to downgrade, not upgrade, my caffeine intake.)

Hugh made up three cups of coffee — using the "odd man out" approach is a bit better than just two options to compare against. Each cup was discretely labeled A, 1, or unmarked. He obviously knew which was which, but he left the room while I tried to distinguish between them so that he wouldn't influence my decision.

And damned if I couldn't tell the difference! I was very mildly suspicious of cup A, thinking it was the half-caf and the other two were decaf. But really, I couldn't tell a major difference and I wasn't even sure there was a difference. I made up my mind at that point to switch to decaf, since my silly taste buds don't know any better.

Afterward, I asked Hugh which was which. It turns out that the unmarked cup was the half-caf, and the other two were decaf. I was so wrong. :P

So I start my weaning off of caffeine tomorrow!