Cheap coffee

by Patty Templeton

Love itCoffee is more than a drink, it is a ritual. In her “Selected Writings,” Gertrude Stein describes coffee as “an event, a place to be, but not like a location, but like somewhere within yourself.” The acquiring or creation of coffee becomes a ceremony that provides a reflective, internal space that assists in alleviating sorrow, reducing anxiety, and increasing a general connectivity to the world around you.

Amen for breaks in the day.

My love of percolating and possessing coffee is bottomless, but my pockets ain’t. Which means, I buy cheap coffee. I don’t just buy cheap coffee, I like it.

I grew up on off-white mugs of diner mud. That bruised, bold liquid that’s been burning in the pot for hours on end. Graveyard shift coffee.

It’s not that I haven’t tried posh coffee. I have. Kopi luwak is one of the most expensive coffees in the world, ranging $100 to $200 a pound. It’s made from the partially digested coffee cherries collected from the shit of civets. It’s also known as “cat poop coffee.” It was … meh.

David Lynch, the meditating, silver fox behind “Twin Peaks,” said, “Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all.” So I’ll have a cup of your bad stuff. A medium roast, if you please. Just your plain old drip coffee. Hell, if you’re out of coffee filters, I’ll even take instant.

— Patty TempletonHate itI’m not sure “cheap” is the best word here, because the less I have to pay for coffee, the better. And I’ve had expensive coffee that made me so buzzy-weird that I had to take the rest of the day off, or that was so acidic, bitter, and burned that my stomach told me to piss off. (My stomach is British. It’s weird).

Perhaps what I’m referring to is weak coffee, which just so happens to normally not cost a whole lot. It’s the stuff you find in the lobby at the Hampton Inn, on airplanes, at work conventions, church fellowship halls, your friend’s house who doesn’t know the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon, and every diner I’ve ever been to.

What I hate is the translucent brown-like coffee-ish drink that makes you say, “I guess water DOES have a flavor,” that gives you as much caffeine as licking the inside of an empty soda can, so weak that you need not add any sugar or cream like usual, for the same reasons you don’t add sugar and cream to a cup of hot water.

Quite frankly, I ask, what’s the point? Coffee should scream its name with every gulp. Coffee should make your mind sharp and alert after a mug or two, and downright paranoid and convulsive after four. Anything less, well, you can go ahead and water my plants with it.

— David Holub


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