One of the many advantages of being older and having grown children is that mornings can begin at 9:00 am. There is no need to get the little buggers out of bed, dressed, fed, and to school before you go to work. All that crap happened twenty years ago when you were young and energetic and actually cared if their sack lunches contained edible food. Now you can sit around in jammies, read the paper, and drink coffee until noon. It’s a wonderful life.
However, I’m worried about several friends who have taken their old age freedom and turned into coffee snobs. They demand only the freshest beans harvested under a full moon from secret mountain forests and flown in on fairy wings. They have contraptions that measure, grind, and arrange the beans in symmetrical patterns while pure glacier water is infused through organic filters woven by chanting honey bees. These friends go to great lengths to prepare, sip, and sigh over their coffee. I think that’s silly.
I recently needed to be at the airport at the criminal hour of 5:00 am for a flight to a conference. I stumbled to the coffee bar and waited in line as a crowd of zombie passengers placed their orders: iced smoked butterscotch latte, caramelized honey Frappuccino, or espresso con panna. I thought they were naming the characters in a foreign porn film.
“I’ll have a coffee, black,” I said.
The barista froze over her register.
“Just plain coffee?” she asked in a mocking tone that blatantly pronounced me as an uneducated, unclean heathen.
“Just plain coffee,” I repeated, careful to slowly pronounce each syllable.
“Well, we’re having a special today on a dark chocolate melted truffle mocha!” she chirped. “You should try it!”
“I want a cup of coffee,” I repeated. “I’m not paying $7.00 for flavored chemicals in hot water.”
She dumped some coffee into a paper cup, smashed on a lid, and shoved it across the counter. I smiled weakly, paid, and turned to find my seat in the mass of caffeine-loving passengers drinking their flavored concoctions. In my pre-dawn stupor, I wondered how society changed from busy people wanting strong, black coffee to delicate flowers requesting expensive, foo-foo drinks with cardboard cuffs so fingers wouldn’t get too hot.
We need to reclaim authentic brew for real people, and I suggest a global fight for our right to drink black coffee. I refuse to order a macchiato, even though I like the sound of the word. Seriously, would you date a man who ordered a flat white espresso with a thin layer of foam on the top in a demitasse cup hand-crafted by elusive Peruvian peasants? No, give me a campfire scene where cowboys are passing a dented tin pitcher of brew strong enough to make ears bleed and hearts palpitate. That’s coffee. I’ll take a cup.