My Choffy Fix

Featured Image:  “Theobroma cacao at the ENMAX Conservatory at the Calgary Zoo,” © Wendy Cutler (own work), Sep 2012. CC BY 2.0. (license)

Despite the often heavy themes I write about here, I don’t spend all of my waking moments in introspective meditation. Occasionally, I’m known to let loose a bit.

“There’s that word again. ‘Heavy.’ Why are things so heavy in the future? Is there a problem with the Earth’s gravitational pull?”

~ Doc Brown, Back to the Future

On that note, moving along to the topic of today’s post… Choffy! Back in 2010, when I was working about a bazillion hours a week (60-100 to be more accurate), my body began to rebel against me. (The ways that stress can manifest physically are truly amazing. Even when we consciously tell ourselves that everything is grand, the body never lies.) Among other symptoms, I developed a pestering case of acid reflux. Rather than the classic heartburn-type symptoms, my GERD presented as a sensation of globus – that feeling of a lump in the throat that just never went away. In fact, it worsened after large meals, if I ate too late at night, or with certain foods. Like coffee. Groan!

How would I survive without my ritual, morning cup of hot, black, deliciousness? For awhile, I continued to bring a cup of it to my desk each day so that I could at least breathe in that strong, characteristic aroma. It was around this time that my friend Helene introduced me to choffy.

Roast cacao beans, grind them down, (in my case, buy them already roasted and ground, in a beautiful, silvery bag), steep them in a French press for five minutes, stir, strain, pour… voilà! The smoothness of what results from this process is unparalleled. Not as strong as coffee, and with only a fraction of the caffeine, choffy also lacks coffee’s acidity, and it carries the delicious flavor and luscious scent of deep, rich chocolate.

When I was immersed in my eating disorder, the thought of the few extra calories that a cup of choffy would “cost” me was paralyzing. The fact that the nutrition label on the bag of grounds was difficult to interpret increased my distress. My brain writhed and flailed as it attempted the calculations in order to determine the precise caloric content of the amount of liquid contained in my mug. Ultimately, after a couple of anxiety-fueled, eating-disorder-triggering attempts, I relegated the choffy to the very back of one of the top-most shelves of an out-of-the-way kitchen cabinet. There, it sat forgotten for years. Until last week.

On a bit of a “spring”-cleaning kick, I was rummaging about for stuff to give to goodwill when I stumbled upon the lovely silver and green bag. “I really could give this another try,” I thought. On a Sunday afternoon, I sat on my back patio, sipping a freshly pressed cup of choffy while overlooking the still, blue-green surface of the pond behind my house, listening to the rustle of tree leaves in the stiff breeze and the distinctive rushing sound of the fountain in the center of the water. The sun danced over the rippling water and threw its light boldly across the soft grass along the little hill leading away from the water’s edge. I closed my eyes, leaned back in my chair, and inhaled deeply. The smell of the choffy mingled with the gentle fragrance of the nearby petunias. “Here I am,” I thought, smiling. “This is good.”

Roasted Cacao Beans
Roasted Cacao Beans,” © James Leone Puno (own work), April 2013. CC BY-SA 2.0. (license)

8 thoughts on “My Choffy Fix

  1. That is beautiful. I can picture you enjoying it…

    Strange coincidence, years ago I struggled with acid reflux and that same feeling like something was stuck in my throat. When it was bad it felt like a knife. And to swallow was excruciating.
    Although I took all kinds of meds, my doctor mostly said it was stress. After I was diagnosed with celiac disease I thought perhaps it was related to that… But who knows, I have spent a lot of my life in a ball of anxiety!

    I’ve never “met” anyone who had that before….


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anne, I’m so sorry that you suffered from that! It is really incredible what stress can do to our bodies. Your description of a “ball of anxiety” sounds about right. When I’m anxious, it feels exactly like a huge knot of tightly stretched rubber bands in my chest, ready to explode outward in all directions at any moment. In addition to the GERD and globus, I also suffered from stress-associated hives and angioedema (my lips once swelled to the size of a cartoon character’s, with my lower lip drooping down to the bottom of my chin), and delayed healing from my multiple running injuries (which wasn’t improved by my malnutrition). Thank goodness I found an amazing therapist who patiently and compassionately helped me address the psychological component to all of my somatic complaints. I’m so much better able to manage my anxiety AND to cope when I’m not feeling quite right in my body, rather than allow those strange physical symptoms to spiral me into further distress and depression. I hope that you’re feeling better now, too. I know that these last few months have been extremely hard, but you are truly one of my inspirations when it comes to coping skills. Wishing you the same peace and stillness you always send to others!

      ~ Lulu


  2. I remember the same lump-in-the-throat symptom when I was most anxious, during the long-days, long-nights season of grad school. Thank heavens it’s no more.

    And I admit: I’d never heard of choffey, but now I very much want to try. 🙂

    So glad to hear you’re enjoying this little luxury again. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s funny how many people tell me now that they have felt the same symptoms, but when I was experiencing it, I felt like there was something horribly wrong with me and I was the only one. Which, of course, made me more anxious. So glad that your stress is less and it’s not something you are contending with anymore, either. As for the choffy, I highly recommend it! Take care, my friend! Wishing you a lovely end to your week and a fantastic Fourth of July!


  3. LuLu:

    Holy bliss-ness…this is a new one on me – CHOFFY.

    Oh Lord, it’s probably a good thing this is so expensive (yes, I looked up the link) or it could become a habitual indulgence.

    Though, I’d love to find my own roasted cacao beans and grind ’em up (I of course have a grinder since I’m a coffee snob as you know)…I’m sure that would be more cost effective. Here in the swamplands, living in SC as I do, that will not occur. Maybe that’s a good thing for right now!!!!

    In the meantime…have a choffy in my honor anytime you like. 😉

    And ‘smile, smile, smile’


    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is definitely a once-in-awhile sort of treat for me, especially because it takes a bit more forethought and effort to brew than just flipping on my coffee maker. That’s the same reason I rarely use my grinder and French press to make a cup of regular coffee, even though it is such a more rewarding experience when I do. 😊 I hope you get to try it eventually. If you end up making your own, that would be quite the rewarding treat! I think there are probably recipes for roasting cacao beans online, but finding them is another story. Until then, I will certainly kick my feet back, smile, and sip a cup in your honor!

      Liked by 1 person

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