Has our nation become caffeine-obsessed? From hyper-caffeinated Starbucks coffees to a proliferation of energy drinks that puts the Cold War arms race to shame, it's the rare American who's more than an arms-length from a few hundred milligrams of liquid happiness. (Confession time: I'm an espresso guy. One in the morning and one in the afternoon. Not only does it taste better than regular coffee (who needs milk and sugar?) but one serving of espresso has less caffeine than a regular cup of coffee, not to mention that less liquid equals less bloaty stomachness and fewer trips to the loo. Rant over.)

purecaf.jpgBut our national obsession may be rounding the corner to becoming a national craze: witness novelty products like "Shower Shock," which is "scented with peppermint oil and infused with caffeine anhydrous." If you build up a good lather in the shower, their website claims, you end up absorbing about 200mg of caffeine through your skin. Personally, I think energy drinks and even Shower Shock miss the point; half of what's great about getting your caf in the morning is the ritual of the coffee/espresso brewing, the smell, the texture -- it's a sensual thing you can't get from something that comes cold in an aluminum can.

But for those who insist on caffeinating things Mother Nature never intended, now there's Purecaf, a 2-oz. grenade of liquid caffeine that you can use to spice up anything from orange juice to water to wine. It's not recommended that you tipple straight from the can, though -- one teaspoon of this stuff is enough to caffeinate any drink to Starbucks strength; the can itself carries the equivalent of 44 Diet Cokes. According to Energy Fiend's handy-dandy "Death by Caffeine" calculator, in which you enter your weight and caffeinated drink of choice and let their Death Engine do the rest, it would only take six cans of Purecaf to send me to that great java stand in the sky. Yeesh.

Maybe I'll switch to decaf.