Tag Archives: coffee

We Worship Thee Oh Coffee, Sustainer of Life

A coffee cup I drew

A coffee cup I drew

Our Lord and Savior coffee hath provided us with much. Whether it is harsh and bitter, too weak, or absent, it rules our life with a brown fist. We don’t control coffee or where it comes from or where it goes. We accept whatever is in the pot in the kitchen and we drink it down dutifully, faithfully, knowing it will give us magic that will make us successful.

It hath given us many things. Oh coffee, how can I count your blessings. Praise thee, oh coffee, sustainer of my office and personal life.

You are a reason to get up in the morning and sweet relief from my office desk prison. You are proof that I am a grown-up, suffering in rages the caffeine-induced angst that driveth me down the fair I-35 in Edmond, OK.

You bequeath-eth me with the power to leave any conversation, providing I seek only you, and you offereth me omnipotence in claiming incompetence for work done poorly as I cry upon your name, saying, “Wherefore were there only coffee in my blood, this email wouldst not have had the typo.”

You are an eternal and everlasting measure of all things, a way to cast judgement upon others through their tastes in your many shades of brown. Should I speak to one who loveth only Peets, I know they haveth not any taste buds. Were I to happen upon one who claimeth Starbucks to be the fairest in all the land, I knoweth then they are capitalists with a bucket of oil for a heart. And should they only partake of Philz, I know them to be of the wisest and most discerning of all your admirers.

Contained within you is the key to my self-realization and my self-destruction, oh addiction of my heart. How many pictures of you have been posted to Instagram! How many statuses updated with your acidic yet endearing flavors! How many people have met and fallen in love over your warm cup, their hearts quickening as they drink down your everlasting spirit!

You are perfect with milk, a calcium chew, and the darkest of chocolates. Whiskey and biscuits are lucky to call you their friend. Were you to be a bath water alternative, that would be weird but not all together disdained.

In the spring I drink of thee. In the summer, I dance in your libations. The autumn calleth me nearer to you, and in the winter, my breath the very clouds of a steamy train, you fill me with your hope.

Oh coffee, oh you berry (delicious drink), oh you natural laxative, you fuelant of revolutionaries and capitalists, of artists and tyrants, you brew not recommended for infants lest their hair curl, oh coffee you are my sustainer and my drink of choice always and always.

You have given us much, and much you have taken away. Your ways are just and your law is a higher law. Though I don’t understand your taste or price, I have faith. I believe that you are perfect and that it is I that must change.  To you, o coffee, be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

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The 24-Hour Starbucks on California Street

laurel heights starbucks san franciscoPerhaps you’ve heard of it. If you have, chances are you either live in the Inner Richmond or Laurel Heights, are/were a student at USF, or were driven to satisfy an unbearably intense craving for steamed milk one lonely Tuesday night in San Francisco.

This Starbucks is one of those places where anything could happen, where reality is suspended in a kind of mayonnaise, and humans that normally should never be within 5 feet of one another’s conversations are working, staring, and eavesdropping amongst each other, the same question running through their minds:“What are they doing here?”

I went there for the first time after my office Christmas party in December, and was glad for the liquid strength I had to cope with the experience since it was, at times, a grotesque affair. Indeed it spoke heavily of the fragile human experience (more about this in my 200 page, single-spaced, tiny-fonted, unedited, FREE ebook.)

I arrive slightly after 11:00pm, still disappointed from a completely drama-less soiree with people I’d hoped would be more interesting.  The place is completely and entirely packed, with at least 100 entities in the place (including computers) and nary a seat to be found.

A slightly manic pulse is in the air. It is finals week, after all, and greasy law students are still trying to mash thousands of syllables into their brains. The students I can understand, but who are  these other people hanging out (lurking?) with no discernible purpose? I grab the last seat available and pull out my notebook and pen, about to attempt writing in this bizarro-world.

To my left was a group of older women involved in some kind of enterprise. They had an even older and shorter companion with them in a black wool coat that went all the way to the ground, and she was in a bad way health-wise. Her ankles and shins were swollen and oozing, wrapped in some kind of tissue.

She fidgeted with them for a while until one of her companions says, “Elizabeth (can’t remember if that’s actually her name), you have to clean this up. That’s infection.” And so she shuffles, hobbles to the bathroom, and while she’s gone her companions talk about her and how she needs to go to the hospital and how stubborn she is. Their disgust and frustration is palpable and horrifyingly audible.

Above all, I remember them talking about the smell of her infection, and I was wondering what kind of hell I was in and what kind of hell she (Elizabeth) was in. I wasn’t getting much writing done, and my balance of reality and of what was possible had been tilt-a-whirled by this mysterious case of incredibly sad leaky shins.

Elizabeth came back eventually and her friends didn’t say anything to her. When she decided to leave later, they wouldn’t call her a cab. A stranger did, and she left.

It’s not my place to judge, but where do you go with a story like that? I’m not saying that’s what it’s always like at the 24-hour Starbucks on California Street, but for me it was a defining moment, me being unable to look away or unhear what I’d heard and unsee what I’d seen. Do you see what I mean bout too much reality?

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Drinking a Cup of Ralph

Don’t be fooled. It’s not as good as it looks.

True or False: instant coffee is disgusting. It is as bitter as the Devil’s eyebrows and as foul as his horn trimmings. It is more profane than an episode of Jersey Shore and more loathsome than a can of Tecate full of slugs.

If you answered true, I’m sorry, but you are incorrect. If you answered false. I’m sorry, but you are also incorrect. This was a trick question designed to make everyone fail.

The correct answer is that some instant coffee is indeed a rank substance unfit for consumption by all things that breathe. Some, however, is just fine. For example, Nescafe, Nescafe Gold, and Starbucks Via are all brands of instant coffee that I would gladly give to my friends, family, and sundry.

I am an instant coffee believer. Some people who term themselves true coffee lovers may scoff at the fact I dare drink the black dregs of coffee crystal solution as they believe it all to be equally unbearable, but this is simply not the case. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way, by drinking a brand called Ralphs Instant Crystals Coffee.

It was purchased in what was later recognized as severe error by a person who thought, at the time, that all instant coffee would taste the same and that if instant must be purchased, it mattered not which brand he chose.

Despite its low sticker price, Ralphs Instant Crystals Coffee has extracted a terrible toll on my life as I’ve drank it day after day, waiting for it to run out like the freaking lamp from the Hanukah story because then new coffee will finally be purchased with rejoicing.

Its very name, “Ralphs Instant Crystals Coffee,” does not inspire any level of confidence, nor do the crystals themselves as they glitter in the jar like a pile of dead ants. And upon the first sip of an overly strong cup, one will immediately notice the desire to upchuck, or Ralph, welling up at the back of the throat. At that moment, the unfortunate coffee drinker will realize they are, in fact, drinking a cup of Ralph.

Yes indeed. For the past month I have been drinking cups of Ralph every morning, knowing that even Folgers would be sweet relief. The day of reprieve cannot come soon enough.

One day I will drink Ralph no longer. One day. But until then, the best part of waking up is finishing the Ralph in my cup.

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And You Wonder What’ll Happen to You

Got one!

Every day begins the same. The curtains open onto the morning. Waking up. Either too early or too late, the last dreamy wisps evaporating, leaving only vague recollections of my father, Colorado, and a buffet. The hot water boiler takes the same amount of time, with its impossible churning and final beep beep beep “I’m done.”

One cup of hand-brewed coffee, because Folger’s isn’t ground for the French press, and it’s either Folger’s or Ralph’s coffee crystals, which look like brown glitter and taste like a nightmare, so the Folger’s is in my cup, and yes, it’s a pretty damned good part about waking up.

And then I’m at the computer, my morning, evening, and afternoon friend, my whirring, over-heating, crashing buddy, my decrepit warehouse. My morning deletion of emails is followed by the usual wondering what to read, the nagging feeling that something better is always out there, and that my time would probably be best spent reading articles all day and learning about the world since it’s so easy to have it shrink to the size of my personal experience.

I read an article and in the back of my mind I want to be looking for jobs instead, jobs that will bring me into new social circles, to new realms of pay, to continued lack or blessed presence of health benefits, to 9-5, to an office with catered food or an office where I’ll be bringing my PB&J or something else entirely.

And then it’s Halloween again, and I’m wondering what I want to be today. What is the perfect intersection of my dreams, my skills, and the realities of living what with the mounting cost of soft serve ice cream? What is the worth of each corner of the triangle—are dreams less valuable than reality even though I think I was told I could be anything I wanted to be?

The game is different than I thought it would be. I’m not sure of the rules, how it’s won, and who’s on my team. Making a difference seems secondary to making a living.

And you wonder what’ll happen to you, when the things you thought you believed in don’t affect your actions, when there are so many opportunities for you to become either someone you wanted to be or something you never thought you would be.

It’s easy for these things to change based on your neighborhood.

Maybe I’ll go hunt unicorns in ancient Redwood forest groves, but not to capture them. I just want to speak with them, and find out how they’ve managed to stay who they are for so long.

Then I’ll trap them, and start a circus about following your dreams.

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What Do You Do When the Coffee’s Gone

Is there anything sadder? Besides the poem, that is.

When the lamp is on, and the chair is warm, and the coffee’s gone, what do you do?

Where do you go when there’s nothing there, not in your cup, not a drop to spare?

What can you pray, to take the pain away, to smooth the rough edges of another rough day?

What do you know that can whisper to your soul, the way the coffee does, when you’re feeling so low?

And the loneliness is pressing, the wind whipping round, the chill to your bones, the stale coffee grounds.

The dry brown ring, the sad coffee stain, the slight dampness mocks you and your coffee-addled brain.

Oh sweet Lord in heaven

Oh red Devil in hell

I don’t care who I pray to, as long as it breaks the spell

This endless white emptiness, the crushing heartache, the yearning and hoping as I’m lying awake.

For a cup of coffee. Hot. No sugar. Just milk. Please.

Then we can have conversation and pass the pleasantries

And thoughts will float between us, as they do between old friends. That is, as they do, before the coffee ends.

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