Energy Drinks, Wisconsin Style

Here’s something that we drink in my house that’s apparently only available in the Midwest and (for some reason) parts of Florida: Water Joe. It’s just what it sounds like: bottled water suffused with the writer’s wonder drug of choice, caffeine.

I’ve had some problems with acid reflux over the years, and doctors often advise me to restrict caffeine intake when that happens. Of course, one of the problems with caffeine isn’t the compound itself but what comes along with it. Sodas and coffees come with all sorts of other acids that can irritate your stomach too, so it’s hard to tell what’s actually causing the trouble. Water Joe is just pure, Wisconsin water with caffeine mixed in, and it’s as gentle as can be.

Otherwise, I often turn to coffee for my fix. Other than the occasional sip (or a ridealong with the police in Bell, CA), I didn’t start drinking coffee until a trip to Castellaneta, Italy, a few years back to celebrate my sister Jody’s wedding to her husband Nanni. While there, I did as the Italians did and knocked back enough espresso to kick my jet lag back across the ocean. I liked it, and when I got back home, I picked up a cheap espresso machine.

It sucked. I didn’t want to spend a fortune on a proper one, though, so I took up with regular coffee. I ended up back in Italy (in Bolzano) the next fall, after attending the wedding of my great friend Bill King in Prague. While there, I picked up one of these little aluminum coffee pots I saw in every household I visited in Italy: a Bialetti Moka Express.

Actually, I got a cheaper knock-off. As Jody said, “Would you like the Bialetti or this one, which is identical and 10 euros less?”

I grind my own beans, usually an Italian roast, and use the little machine to make a tasty, homestyle Italian espresso that doesn’t bother my belly a bit. I take it like I take my scotch: with not one other blessed thing.