Issue 1

The Truth About Coffee


                Coffee is one of the more interesting stimulants in that it gives its user more strength in its absence than when it is consumed.  Certainly, coffee keeps many an interstate driver barely awake at the wheel on a long haul, but that's the kind of strength that uses PVC pipe to hold up a brick wall that's about to fall.

                No, coffee's greatest power comes from the wanting of it.  The desire for coffee is explosive, seen at its best in the morning.  We all know someone – maybe even ourselves – who stumbles out of bed with one eye half-open, nostrils flaring as he or she tries to locate the nearest source of java.  The mouth may seem only able to emit grunts but if you mention the words, "There's no more coffee" under your breath, you'll see fire and flames spit forth in your direction.

                Coffee can also lend great strength to its apostles.  My wife recently mistook the French press for a bench press in her rush to start into a cup.  I heard her screams from upstairs and came running down to find half the kitchen covered in coffee grinds and glass.  Rebecca stood holding her dripping nightgown away from her body, waiting for the coffee to cool so it wouldn't burn her skin.  When the temperature had dropped a bit, she started sucking on her sleeve.

                I turned away to survey the damage.  I knew better than to get between her and her coffee, no matter what form it took.  In amazement, I looked at the streaks of coffee and grinds that covered the door leading to the backyard, the drips on the underside of the stove hood, the coffee skids on the cabinets on the other side of the kitchen.  "How hard were you pressing?" I asked.  Rebecca answered, but I couldn't understand her with half her shirt in her mouth.  "I can't believe this," I said to her.  "You have a glass cut on your butt.  How did you manage that?"

                Powerful stuff this coffee.  Without it, marriages swing in the balance as the pot percolates, then settle back into routine as the coffee soothes.  It seems to me that coffee is more of a depressant than a stimulant, kind of in the same way that alcohol is really a stimulant because it makes dull people silly and happy.  One of the most dangerous times to drive is early in the morning as everyone rushes to pick up their cup of coffee on their way to work.  You notice how there are few drive-through coffee houses.  That's because everyone waiting to get coffee would be ramming the cars ahead of them in the line.  It's hard enough to control the pre-coffee crowd as it is without giving them a weapon to wield like a car.  Perhaps we could reduce the number of traffic accidents in the evening if everyone downed a mug just before leaving for home.

                Many folks bemoan the existence of the corporate monster Starbucks.  Say what you like, but Starbucks is directly responsible for seriously reducing the number of incidents of road rage.  And with their variety of fru-fru drinks, they've helped diffuse the power of coffee's call.  After all, while we can all understand the insanity of someone who hasn't had his or her first cup yet, it's a bit more difficult to sympathize with someone desperately calling for an iced Raspberry Cappuccino Rumba.



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