In Praise of That Moment
That Only a Coffee Breaks
Most of us know a thing or two about why so many absolutely love to drink and even smell coffee so much. Not only love; they’re downright addicted to the stuff. In fact, we’re way past the old excuse, that one needs to wake up and remain awaken longer hours these days.
But it’s certainly not because it contains tiny amounts of three chemicals that wouldn’t be misplaced if they were brewed in the bowels of hell: a component of cockroach pheromones, a compound that gives human feces its odor, and another that makes rotten meat poisonous.
With that out of the way, and with a little wink to how kopi luwak, the world’s most expensive coffee, is produced, we shall move on. For despite all those million reasons, lets not skim over the main one that drives us to savor it daily: we do it because it’s quicker than to sleep.
Even though coffee is being enjoyed since BCE, and until it got to be known as kahveh, it had a rather serendipitous relationship with the evolution of the human society, we bet that it became an essential staple once light bulbs extended daylight deep into night territory.
When we’ve stopped calling it a day along with the farm animals, we were destined to find ways to keep us up through the wee hours. Sex and conversation helped, but a cup of brew had its own allure.
From dusk to dawn, it was a short leap for it to become part of the first meal of the day. But for those who come from cultures where breakfast was a mere cup of milk with coffee and sugar, and sliced bread with butter and home made preserves, though, boy, how far have we come.
It doesn’t change a thing that even a simple cup of coffee then could hold its own against any fancy contemporary espresso, and that the milk was thick and never ever of the skim type, and about the butter, you’d better believe it was real as the sugar. And kids were in it too.
THANK NIRVANA FOR THAT TOO
Cut to the city that never sleeps, only three decades ago, and guess what? If you wanted a decent, strong as a punch, cup of coffee, you’d be probably out of luck. Unless you were affiliated with some don or capo, or live in Little Italy, you didn’t even know what you were missing. Or care.
It may be hard to picture it now but then, if you’d order an espresso, or heaven forbid, a cappuccino at any of the city’s thousands of coffee shops, you’d be likely laughed out of the traditional establishment by any of the black-vest wearing waiters or stained-aprun dishwashers.
Curiously, it wasn’t the Italians or the Greeks who turned the fine populace of this great metropolis into avid, even rabid coffee fans. It was a completely off the left field wave, coming not from the old country, or outer space, but all the way from Seattle and its grunge invasion of the 1990s.
So, there you have it. And of course, this being New York City, we’re overdoing it. We know so much about caffeine addiction, and how much water is wasted with your cup of latte, and how come not all coffees are created equal, to make us all tea drinkers, at least for a day or two. But not for long, of course.
Now how come we got from there to the point that if the person ahead of you adds just one more exotic-sounding item to their order, you’re perfectly capable of eviscerating, bare-handedly, the living daylights out their sorrow selves, wire-rimmed glasses and sock-less shoes included, we don’t know.
NOT YOUR CUP OF TEA?
It must be envy, or any of the deadly sins. All of which, of course, are intrinsically ingrained in our ways, with coffee only enhancing whatever happens to be the one we’ve picked to enjoy at any particularly time. But for all our failings and flaws, ingesting caffeine is certainly not our worst luscious bite, or rather, sip of this world.
Yes, we could count the ways a cup of coffee is no longer just a cup of coffee or a cup of coffee these days, most of them far from being as exquisite and banal as what Gertrude Stein saw on that rose. And how pretentious misquotes like that can have a way of spoiling and spilling even the most precious brew.
But there must be some kind of reward for getting through a post about café and not even once mentioning decaf. Well, only once anyway. Shame on those like us who set up to write something fresh about an old potion and only manage to get nauseated in the process. Thus we can only hope that you’re enjoying a much better beverage today. If not, may we suggest… oh never mind.
* Surabaya Brew
* Strange Brew
* Brews & Brains