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In elementary school music class, we had to learn a song about coffee. The chorus was something along the lines of “C-O-F-F-E-E, coffee is not for me.” If “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” is about the intrinsic value of boat paddling, this coffee song was designed to keep kids off the beans. It worked on me. I don’t like coffee. I never have. I definitely gave it a shot, though.

The high school theatre kid version of me wanted to be all artsy, so I bought cup after cup and loaded it with cream and sugar to make it stomachable. The late night college crammer version of me wanted to like it so I could stay up and do some learnin’ (or, at least, avoid failin’) but I just ended up getting jittery and shaking my way through term papers. The current version of me hates that nasty, acidic pick-me-up. So I’m stuck with an empty mug. What’s a guy to do for his morning cup of Joe when he and Joe had a falling out?

Tea
Ah, tea. You’re so damn civilized. You can be enjoyed in the morning or as a mid-afternoon imperial break. You’re easy enough to make, come in a variety of flavors and taste like dirty water. That’s my issue with tea. It’s just stuff sitting in water. The flavor is always too weak and even when I go crazy with the tea bags (Two bags! Three!), it just doesn’t do that much for me. For me, it’s both textural and historic. Tea reminds me of being sick and I don’t like super-thin beverages when they’re hot. Tea lattes are great – especially when they’re made with chai – but who wants to make a latte at home and who wants to pay four bucks for one if you’re out? It’s tea. Come on.

Cider
I love a good cider. Hot cider reminds me of ski lodges, late-night gab sessions in cabins and all kinds of other things I’ve never done as a city-dwelling non-skier. Since good cider is made from good apples, it’s expensive. Even worse, those prices are rising. Orchards are now charging upwards of $5 a gallon. Also, it’s a fresh product. You can’t just store it in your cabinets for a cold, rainy morning. Sure, you can buy powdered cider in packets but that ends up tasting like liquified Apple Jolly Ranchers. I don’t know about you, but if I’m eating liquified Jolly Ranchers, I’m going with watermelon. Sorry, Ci.

Yerba Mate
If you drink yerba mate on the regular, you’re probably either South American or an asshole. Chances are you visited South America and came back with one of those special drinking gourds and now you feel obligated to use it. Buenas dias, idiota, go back to Patagonia (unless, of course, you’re from South America, in which case please enjoy your mate!). Every time I try mate, I feel like I grabbed a handful of grass and threw it into hot water. That’s not yerba mate, folks. That’s a hot toddy for goats. I kid, I kid.

The Single-Serve Solution
I found the answer to my problems (laziness, frugality) in those single-serve machines that are about as complicated as operating a box of Triscuits. I was given a CBTL Kaldi machine to try out and all of my morning drinking woes disappeared. Cue the informercial. For real, though, you stick a little capsule in, press a button, and you’re done. I even got a milk frother to make those chai lattes without paying roundtrip subway fare. They end up being about a buck apiece and they’re not perfect. The flavor could use some work and I feel pretty stupid using a machine to make tea, but I’m an American, damn it. If I want a big machine to do a task that billions of people do every day with almost no effort, then I’m going to do it. C-O-F-F-E-E may not be for me, but I can get down with C-A-P-S-U-L-E-S.

What’s your non-coffee morning drink of choice?

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