Are you one of those people who in no way shape or form can begin each day until that first sip of piping hot caffeine goodness crosses the barrier of your lips? Is pouring that first cup of coffee a sacred ritual? Are you on a first name basis with the employees at the coffee shop down the street from your home?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, rest easy, for you’re not alone. I’d hazard a guess there are millions of you out there. You come in all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life, and you live in all four corners of the country.
Be honest. You probably have your own special name for coffee. Let me guess. Java. Joe. Mud. Jamoke. Just a small sampling (pardon the pun) of its many aliases. Taste buds salivating yet?
Why does a beverage, mostly associated with breakfast but hardly limited to morning consumption, go by so many monikers? What is it that obligates society to worship at the coffee altar? Seriously, we can’t seem to get enough of our beloved coffee.
People drink it everywhere they go. In the car or on the subway. Waiting in line at the bank or while pushing a carriage in the supermarket. Sitting in the stands watching Little League or reading a book on the beach.
In businesses all over the country, does anyone really gather around the water cooler anymore or is it more like mill around the kitchen impatiently waiting for the coffee maker to yield its daily catch?
How many office folk have their own personal cup that they consume the precious Colombian plasma from? Sure, there are all kinds of coffee mugs. Some have the name of its owner while others have a picture of a loved one printed on the side. The real pros on the coffee circuit certainly have some type of verbal coffee reference along the lines of “caffeine addict: please refill” imprinted on the outside of their sacred ceramic chalices.
Now here’s the rub, at least for me: Try as I have, I just can’t get into coffee.
Nope. No can do. Aint happenin’. Just doesn’t do it for me.
Oh, it’s not for lack of effort. I mean, New England is Dunkin Donuts’ country. I’ve lived my whole life in one of the two coffee cauldrons (Seattle being the other) of the nation. One doesn’t have to drive very far around here to come across a Dunkin Donuts. They are as common as Boston accents and cases of road rage.
But I still don’t get the fascination.
At first, I couldn’t figure out what the big deal was. For a wet liquid, coffee tastes awfully dry.
So I started experimenting with the coffee condiments. Cream, milk, and skim milk. Sugar, Equal, and Sweet and Low.
After dawning my mad scientist hat, I finally settled on ordering my coffee (from Dunks, mind you. NOT a Starbucks guy. We’ll get to that in a moment, rest assured) with extra cream and three Equals. Yes, I know. Break out the “you want some coffee with your cream and sugar?” jokes. I found that particular combination of sweet and fat transformed coffee from bitter and dry to, well, sweet and fat. Coffee for me had become a coffee-flavored milk shake with caffeine kick. The metamorphosis was complete.
So why order strictly from Dunkins, you ask? Well, let me answer by telling you why I refuse to order from Starbucks. Simple. I’m not foo foo. And Starbucks is foo foo.
For starters, they make their coffee way too strong. Thanks, but an ulcer of the throat didn’t make the top ten on my Bucket List. Put it this way, if you’re sick of gas stations inserting the Hoover into your wallet every week and turning it to level “suck up every last cent and the threading that holds the wallet intact, to boot”, then I have the perfect solution for you. Pour a pot of fresh Starbucks down the gas tank hatch and watch your car go from zero to 60 faster than Usain Bolt.
Furthermore, this is New England. And in New England, we don’t order coffee by asking for a “grande triple crappachino latte mocha bajocha with four shots of espresso and topped with organic whipped cream”. That, my friends, is the text-book definition of “foo foo”.
In New England, here’s how we order coffee:
“Welcome to Dunkin Donuts, can I take your order?”
“Yeah, meedyum reg-u-lah”.
For those of you who aren’t educated in the dialect known as the Boston accent, that customer ordered a “medium regular”, which is code for hot coffee with milk and sugar.
And if Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks weren’t already locked in an epic battle for coffee supremacy, a new player has upped the ante. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the rise of the Keurig coffee maker (pause for dramatic entrance music).
Just press and go. You have your K-cups and your V-cups. What the difference is and why those two letters were chosen, I don’t know. I’m more curious about why the other 24 letters got the shaft.
Yup, coffee has become an industry.
But it’s still not for me.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have a cup of tea. With honey.