According to a recent Gallup poll, 64% of Americans drink coffee. That may be true for most of America, but in my little corner of the world I’d say it’s closer to 95%. Actually, I’m not sure I have ANY friends who don’t drink coffee.

Personally, I love the whole coffee drinking experience. I love the smell of coffee. Whether I’m opening a new bag of coffee or stepping inside a coffee shop, I like to take a second or two to inhale that wonderful scent. I also love the idea of savoring a warm drink. When I watch people drink a cup of their favorite brew, I see a sense of enjoyment and peace come over their faces. And I like the whole idea of meeting up with girlfriends to laugh and share life together around a mug-covered table.

What I don’t like about the coffee, however, is the taste. (I know some of you just gasped. “How can she not like coffee?” you’re wondering. “What’s wrong with her?”)

I’ve tried, believe me I’ve tried, to enjoy that wonderful smelling, steaming drink. I mean it seems like the “in thing” to do. Plus, there’s that whole jumpstart your day caffeine benefit and the fact that it’s calorie free. Seriously, I would be REALLY excited if I loved coffee. And yet, I don’t.

Every now and again, though, I do need a little energy kick-start to the day. When that happens I sometimes, in desperate situations, resort to pouring myself a Dr. Pepper.

This past Thanksgiving I had a little episode of “I sure could use a caffeine bump to get me going today.” The problem was that my grandchildren were all sitting around the table nearby, and they are really into asking LOTS of questions. “What are you drinking, Nana?”  “Dr. Pepper.”  “Why are you drinking Dr. Pepper?”  “Because I’m kind of tired this morning.”  “Why are you tired, Nana?” and on it goes until they get to “Can I have some?”

Knowing their parents would not be thrilled at the prospect of me pouring them a glass of Dr. Pepper at 9:00 AM, I decided it would be best to “conceal” the contents a bit. And it worked. No child under five was the wiser.

If you, too, have little ones around and find yourself needing to employ a little “coffee charade” of your own during this busy season, allow me to share with you my “let’s pretend it’s coffee” wisdom:

  • First, choose a mug from your cupboard – preferably one with a dark inside (less contrast that way.)
  • When the little ones aren’t looking pull the intended drink out of the cupboard and open it. If they are the particularly observant type, you might want to do a little fake cough as you pull up the tab in order cover up the “pfft” sound.
  • Pour the drink into the mug and hope they don’t notice you also added ice cubes.

Remember, you want this to look like coffee so the next few steps are critical.

  • Once you’ve poured your fake coffee, lift the mug up and wrap both of your hands around it. Hold the mug in front of you with your shoulders scrunched a bit, indicating you are a little chilled. Though this won’t warm you up, it’ll look like you are attempting to do so. Coffee drinkers do this.
  • Next, hold the mug just under your nose and inhale. Of course there will be no real scent to speak of, but do it anyway. Be sure to wait until the fizzing has stopped before you inhale. You don’t want to go into a coughing fit in the midst of this little deception.
  • Your final step is to blow on your drink and take a quick sip (not too fast, it’s hot remember!) After you take your first sip, let out a sigh like this is the best coffee you’ve ever had.

If you follow these key steps no one will be the wiser – unless of course, you set it down right under their noses. Don’t make that mistake.

Christmas is coming, friends. Those of you who don’t drink coffee might need these tips to help get you through. The rest of you, go on and enjoy your calorie-free treats, and please, play along with our game. It’ll help us non-coffee drinkers feel like part of the club.