This morning, at at time of the day when I am most vulnerable, I was humiliated once again by the words on the package of coffee. You see them, don’t you, down there on the bottom.
“rich and smoky, with cocoa notes punctuated by hints of almonds.”
All I taste is coffee. It can be thin or strong, but it is coffee and that’s it.
No almonds, no cocoa, none of that comes through to my senses. It is obvious that there is something deficient about me, and that there are dimensions out there that you and others know that I never will.
And it’s not just in the world of coffee beans. There are the wines that taste of “vanilla and bee sweat and long slow evenings on the porch, ” cheeses that harbor essences of walnuts, persimmons, and flea markets, and perfumes that evoke nights lying on dock planks with hints of rose attar, turpentine, and wet spaniel.” I am oblivious to these niceties.
I just have to try not to read these things. They make me not want to go out in public for fear that I will hear those small cackles of derision from passersby.
“He looks normal enough, but did you hear that he can’t tell a rhododendrite from a flapdoodle?”
“Yes, yes, I heard that he went to a nuance festival and was denied admission for being an impostor.”
Doomed is what I am. Set apart from the rest of my race by an errant base pair located on the arm of a chromosome ordinarily associated with the ability to smell asparagus in communal bathrooms.
Sometimes life can be too much to bear, really it can.
From The New Yorker (one of my all-time favorite cartoons about coffee. I made a print of it several years ago and mounted it on the cupboard near where we do our brewing. Give the guy a beard and it is absolutely me.)
At a physical therapy center here in Paradise, there is a coffee machine in the waiting room that dispenses the beverage free of charge and identifies it as the Folger’s brand. You can take your plastic cup to the machine and choose either hot water or something called coffee and that’s it. “The coffee is awful, but it’s free,” said another man in the room as I stood there trying to make up my mind, deciding on whether I wanted to run this gauntlet once again.
Institutional coffee is almost always wretched. Either it is thin and metallic tasting, or the flavors that come through have hints of the Spanish-American War, which is the era when those beans were first placed in the warehouse. Growing up in Lutheran America, I found that while in the homes of the parishioners the brews were generally satisfying, give the same people a chance to make a cup of java in the church basement and you could tell they were all into saving money.
The same thing happens at AA meetings. Now you would think that folks who had just given up their drug of choice to make the switch to caffeine would care, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. At the Yankton club, whenever I would rise from my seat to make a fresh pot, there was no end of eyes that followed me and counted (and commented on) the number of scoops that I put in. I could never put in too few.
From The New Yorker
Now although I do have some opinions on the subject, I am far from being a coffee snob. I just have minimum standards, is the way I see it. But as insufferable as true coffee snobs can be on occasion, I do feel sorry for them. There are so many ways that they leave themselves open to disappointment. Beans too old, beans roasted the wrong way, beans ground the wrong way, brewing temperatures too hot or too cold … the list goes on. They have locked themselves into a world of brewing perfection that very few others can satisfy, and even those persons may not be enough of a purist to suit them.
While I, on the other hand, will be content if you just put enough scoops in the machine. Brew me a cup of something dark brown and of pedestrian origins if you will, but make it strong.
A handful of coffee memes …
It will not surprise me in the slightest if we don’t start seeing the practice of book-burning revived. There are just too many books that actually challenge the reader or contain material meant for adults (a category of reader which is always in short supply). Our nation’s hefty population of supremacist thinkers is concerned that white people are being unfairly singled out for too much negative publicity.
I couldn’t agree more. Let’s take the colonization of America, for example. Europeans are portrayed as greedy, inhumane, murderous, and deceitful in their dealings with the original occupants of this land. Nothing could be further from the truth.
My great-grandparents came over on the boats, having no doubt left successful careers in Norway behind them, and approached the Native Americans in Wisconsin and Minnesota asking where they could put up their rustic dwellings.
Colonist: Hey, you guys, anybody know where we might find some land to set up our farm?
Native: Farm? What might that be?
Colonist: Well, a house and a barn and a few livestock to start with. Then we dig up the soil and plant crops and either eat them or feed them to our animals.
Native: You need a lot of our land for that?
Colonist: Naw, just a patch or two. You’ll never miss it.
Native: And you won’t ask for more?
Colonist: Why would we? We are by nature a peaceful and easily satisfied people.
Native: Then welcome, lads, you sound like good neighbors and we are happy to share our abundance with you. Take what you need, you’ll get no arguments from us.
Colonist: Excellent, now how about we sit down and have a cup of coffee to seal the bargain?
Native: Never heard of it, but we’re game to try anything. After that we could have a nice smoke.
Now, where in that narrative do you see anything violent or genocidal? Just two very different peoples working things out amicably. The rabble-rousers who write these books … I’m pretty sure they are outsiders coming in to stir things up, and just when everything is going so smoothly, too.