Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Coffee Confessions

Edgar Allan Poe's birthday was this week.  With him, the subject of addiction tends to surface.  Poe gets harassed from the grave with this topic, as scientists have even tested a lock of his hair for traces of lead in efforts to prove the cause of death was his alcoholism. Relax, the lead was in alcohol from the early to mid 1800's, not today.  Well, was the cause of his death alcohol related?  Nope, it was maybe cats. He may have died of rabies from an animal bite. Cats, at times, get a bad rap themselves.  According to animal hoarders, they are also another addiction.

Much like coffee, the word "addiction" is strong.  Rather than think of ourselves as addicts, it helps to sugarcoat it with terms like aficionado and enthusiast.  "I'll quit coffee tomorrow."  This is what I tell myself. It sounds right out of a brochure, doesn't it?  It has been over a year now that I've had coffee every day, except for maybe one week.  That's something that could be said at a meeting of Coffee Drinkers Anonymous, if it existed.  What's the problem with having only one or two cups a day?  It's not like slugging down a pot; my friends console me.  I scarcely hear of anyone who can handle, or stomach, an entire pot of coffee daily.  I assume that breed is a rare species.

It has been brought up a couple of times by friends that we must beware of coffee pairings.  What goes well with coffee can seep over into other lifestyle choices.  In fact, those of us who crave sugar are perhaps more apt to pour on the bitter, brown beverage.  What goes well with coffee?  Pair it with a sweet scone, a doughnut, a pastry, or a slice of pie.  I have seen cookie dough as an offering on a drive-up coffee shop's menu. Yes, it was raw dough.

There are certain implications of coffee drinkers as a group.  Coffee drinkers who drink more than the mainstream coffee brands sometimes go to special markets and you can spot them in coffee shops.  In order to be a real snob though, you have to refuse any and all commercial coffee.  I'm not quite that picky.  You can make inferences that connect coffee shops to the arts, as musical bands sometimes perform there and eye-catching paintings cling to the walls. 

If I can get sappy for a second, there is an emotional draw to consider.  This emotional draw stirs up memories of families sharing brews together. Along with them are the occasional drinkers who only partake during holidays.  Then, there is a socialization factor.  Although very few people I've met have said to me, "I met the love of my life at a coffee shop", it is still a place to make small business contacts or a few friends.  For writers these places are, in part, research labs.

Admittedly, I have gone to great lengths to vanquish this addiction. I switched to decaffeinated for six months in efforts to curb the entire practice.  There is only one type of de-caf that tastes like regular and I only pick it up when visiting family in another city.  There have been plenty of times I've fantasized about throwing the glass coffee pot over my balcony to watch it tumble down the hill in the snow and hopefully end up in a ditch.  With this, I can further imagine waking up the next day and plodding through the snow just to retrieve it. Other futile attempts to stop drinking coffee include chucking the packaged grind, or in whole bean cases, the grinder itself on the highest shelves of our kitchen cupboards.  This simply required a chair to fetch it down the next morning.

Could it be that some of us are craving something more?  Is that why we are literally filling ourselves?  Perhaps, but it seems little to worry about if we don't know what the "something" is.  We must be realistic; we are not prisoners.  Maybe "we" coffee drinkers just don't want to quit enough.  Maybe life without its occasional perks is just a wee bit under-stimulating.

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