It took me months. I did it slowly to avoid withdrawal symptoms: hangover-like headache, fatigue, mental fogginess, the strong drive to kill the people around me.
Following advice I had read in a magazine article, I slowly worked my way down, one step at a time, from venti to grande to tall, from two a day to one, then made with three-quarters caffeinated, one quarter decaf, then half and half (I discovered you can order this at a coffee bar), then to one-quarter caffeinated, three-quarters decaf, then finally to all decaf.
My husband pronounced this whole process “bonkers.” “Hush,” I said.
I was doing this because of an upcoming trip. Long flights. Jet lag. I didn’t know if there would be coffee where we were going. I didn’t want to miss out on anything, and I didn’t want to be a grumpy travel companion. Plus, I figured, if I ever needed a boost, I could administer a jolt of caffeine to my decaffeinated self and it would have an effect.
This all worked. I had no withdrawal symptoms, though my husband declared my last coffee order, “One small nonfat decaf latte,” to be the saddest one he’d ever heard. I was suddenly able to bound out of bed, into the shower, into clothes, and out the door early in the morning, something that seemed crazy to me before. I didn’t miss out on anything, and I was, I hope, a cheerful travel companion.
But before I even felt the need, I was drinking coffee on the trip. They did, indeed, have it there. They even had an espresso machine. And we were able to introduce the bartender to the concept of iced latte.
And so, I'm back where I started.