Now appearing on a computer or tv near you is a commercial for an energy shot. Sold in singled dose-sized bottles and taken more like a medication than a beverage, the company is reportedly spending billions to hook market share. Simply knock back the 2-ounce shot and you’re energized for the next five hours. The pitch used to sell this product strike a perverse chord: “it’s faster and easier than coffee!” 

What is better than a hot cup of good coffee?

Maybe on most days, there isn’t time to brew but what could be easier and faster than buying a cup of coffee?

Maybe this product is less expensive than a good cup of coffee. A daily artisanal brew can run up a sizable tab by month’s end; maybe cost is a selling point of this quick fix. Sadly, low price isn’t a factor except when buying in bulk. So why not just pop an aspirin — mostly caffeine anyway — if you need a jolt of energy? No taste, cheap, and can be found in just about every medicine cabinet.

I might be tempted to buy one, if only in the name of research; after all, I am writing about a product I’ve never tried.  However, my metabolism is one that, after even a small cup of caffeine, gives me enough energy to annoy those around me for hours. I don’t need to be bouncing off the walls for half the day to know what my instinct tells me:  this is not a good thing. Especially the part where they tell you that it is good “every day”. Sounds like an addiction waiting to happen. It’s not even a serving. It’s a dose of hyper-energy, an unnatural shock to the system. Not unlike an amphetamine.

God bless Google, enabling anyone to find out about products like this without being a human guinea pig. Users describe negative side effects, a news agency reports that it has more caffeine than claimed, and the vitamins contained don’t provide any benefit.

Here’s what is absent, evident without even trying this product. It has none of the unique nutty flavor of the coffee bean. No adding a little sugar or milk, just as you like it. Forget enjoying your favorite mug, and you can’t put your hands around it and warm away the chill of winter. No full-bodied aroma wafting up to your nose, enriching the experience of coffee on the senses. None of the ritual stirring that cools it to the perfect drinking temperature, nor any thoughts that might come to mind while engaging in enjoying the experience in lingering, however briefly, over a ritual cup to start or break up the day.

What is missing and, perhaps most important, is the experience of having a good cup of coffee that cannot be rushed: satisfying the human instinct for taking the time to relax, reflect, and recharge.

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