Okay, like I wrote in an earlier post, I tried giving up coffee. I mean, what is it exactly about the stuff that makes reading books and writing fiction so much more, well, interesting? Everyone in the laundromat today was reading a book…not newspapers or magazines, BOOKS. Everyone in this city is serious on a rain-swept day. This Portland is seriously into reading BOOKS–in their houses, on the buses and in cafes. This is a readers’ town–and a writers’ town. You betcha.
Anyway, I gradually downsized the amount of coffee grounds in the French press until I could sail through my day without a headache or in total bitch mode. But as time went on I got this hollowness inside. Like something was missing in my life. So as I wrote earlier, I started drinking this yerba mate blend called Brazilian Breakfast I ripped from Celestial Seasonings, which used to make something similar. But I can’t drink tea without honey and milk (soy), so I was also piling on the calories. And the thing about the molecular caffeine in tea, for me at least, is that it makes me hungry, hungry, hungry all day long. I could eat the door right off the fridge. I mean, tea is nice once in awhile, but not by the pot, and not every day. It doesn’t have the same buzz as coffee for me.
But I was determined to stick to my guns and stay off coffee. I really was. Really I was. So I bought a can of decaf (organic, fair trade) at Trader Joe’s. I got about halfway through the can (I grind the beans as I need them in an electric grinder I found at Village Merchants for $6, but ideally I’d like to find one of those wooden boxes with a crank and grinder mechanism on top and a drawer below) I nearly gagged from the deceit. Drinking decaf is like kissing your sister (or brother). There’s no kick, so what’s the point?
This addiction goes back a ways. When I was old enough to hold a mug, maybe around two, my beloved grandfather (Baba) used to make coffee for himself and my grandmother every morning. When I stayed with them he’d pour a mug of milk for me and add a little coffee. That’s how I developed a taste for the stuff, which back then was probably Folger’s or Maxwell House. As I got older the milk decreased and the coffee increased in my mug. I drank it at my grandparents’ house; I drank it at my parents’ house. I drank in in restaurants and anywhere I pleased. My parents never disapproved. They also kept the liquor cabinet open to me at all times. I tried the stuff but never developed a taste. Maybe if Baba had offered it I’d be a drunk today.
So I’ve tried every kind of coffee that’s in front of me. It was all pretty much the same (except I hate instant coffee) and I boycott places that treat their employees like crap, like Starbucks. After I got to Portland I kept seeing “Stumptown Coffee” signs everywhere. I finally tried a cup and thought it was too strong (!). Then I tried another cup on another day and that was it. See, Stumptown Coffee is like crack. Once you get it in you, everything else tastes like crap. So, hell yeah, I’m back on coffee. I had my first cuppa Hair Bender Stumptown for the first time in two months t’day. Holy crap it tasted good. You know that scene in Trainspotting where Ewen McGregor shoots up and falls straight back on the carpet of the junk house? I’m just saying.
I don’t know what I (or millions of other people) will do if world coffee supply ever dries up. That’s like the poppy fields blowing away. Does anyone ever realize how important coffee is to the success of capitalism?