I love coffee. Black coffee. Not that light and sweet diner coffee that I used to drink in high school. The dark, rich coffee that I discovered during grad school. Freshly brewed at the Daily Grind in Baltimore, Maryland. I drank it every day until my stomach couldn’t take it anymore. That was ten years ago. Ever since then, I’ve dreamed of being able to drink black coffee again. Every few months, I would try just a little bit. I would roll that dark, rich coffee around in my mouth, savoring every drop. Without fail, the nausea would begin within the hour and my stomach would continue its complaining for the rest of the day. So disappointing.
So I complained. To anyone who would listen. Especially to anyone drinking the black coffee that I couldn’t have. Hoping that someone would know some secret remedy for a stomach damaged by the classic combination of coffee and stress. Friends were sympathetic. Some even had the same problem, But no one knew how to fix it. As the years went by, I resigned myself to drinking Coke with my eggs and toast. Out of habit, I still complained to anyone drinking coffee. That included my friend’s husband Dan. My hero. The man who gave me back my coffee. He shared with me the advice that he received from his nutritionist. I wish I could remember her name so that I could give her credit here. She advised Dan to drink a little kefir every day. I had never heard of kefir. According to kefir.net, Kefir is a cultured, enzyme-rich food filled with friendly micro-organisms that help balance your “inner ecosystem”. More nutritious and therapeutic than yogurt, it supplies complete protein, essential minerals, and valuable B vitamins. I was skeptical, but excited to try it. I drank some kefir right away. Just a little bit. Maybe two ounces. It tasted a lot like yogurt, but with a little bit of carbonation. Kinda weird, but not bad at all. The next morning, after my second shot of kefir, I put it to the test. I poured myself half a cup of black coffee, curled up in a comfy chair and sipped away. As always, the coffee was heavenly. As always, I was resigned to paying for it later. But the kefir had already worked its magic. No nausea. Not even a little bit. All day long, I felt just fine! I couldn’t believe it. But it was true. It worked again the next day. And the next.
Every day, I drink a little kefir. You can buy kefir culture starters and make your own, but for now, I buy the pre-made version at my local Whole Foods Market. Vanilla Kefir by HELIOS or Lifeway is delicious. My three year old daughter loves it, too. If you want plain Kefir, I recommend buying the Lifeway brand. It tastes pretty good (though not nearly as good as the vanilla). The HELIOS plain kefir is smelly and fairly bad tasting when drank alone, but my husband loves it mixed with yogurt and granola.