Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Coffee: A love story

I still can't decide. Is it ambrosia, passed down by God himself? Or is it Satan's toxin, messengered to Earth by one  of his minions? We may never know, but either way, this enchanting beverage will remain forever attached to my life, like a tongue on a frozen tether ball pole.

I love coffee. Love, love, love coffee. Did I say I love coffee? A rich, bold, naked cup of black java is my drink of choice, but you can pour me a latte, a cappuccino, a macchiato, an Americano, a frappuccino or a mocha. Some coffee ice cream topped with chocolate-covered espresso beans? Keep sprinkling them on; I'll say when.

I'll pick some up at Starbucks, Tully's, Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's or 7-11. It can be Maxwell House, Folgers, Nescafé, Sanka or Taster's Choice (Please, not the decaf, though. That's like going to a formal event with a tuxedo t-shirt). My coffee maker is the true Iron Man, having played far more consecutive dates than Cal Ripken, and I'm quite certain that it's got a few more brews left in it.

I can remember wondering, as a kid, what the allure of coffee was for adults. It smelled good, especially when it was freshly ground, but that didn't translate into flavor. And it wasn't until college, when my friends and I would sit around our dining room, putting off studying and drinking a few cups, that my dark master finally took hold upon my soul. I discovered that magical first sip of the morning, as the hot elixir seeps down the esophagus, spreading its warming tentacles throughout the torso. More cups soon followed, and eventually, I was drinking coffee all the time.

One night, facing a heavy night of final exam cramming, I decided to try a little experiment. I prepared cups of coffee with tea bags submerged in them. Rationalizing that this method of caffeine infusion could be quite efficient and effective for pulling an all-nighter, I ingested a few cups before the chemicals had the opportunity to embed their talons into my central nervous system.

This was a really bad idea. Within short order, I couldn't stop shaking, my stomach cramped up, and my mind couldn't calm itself enough to actually concentrate on anything. I thought about the phone call my parents might be receiving from the university in a few hours. No, your son didn't die from falling off a balcony or some sort of alcohol-related accident. Actually, he drank too much coffee. We're very sorry, but at least we can give his roommate a 4.0 for the quarter.

I toned down my coffee consumption quite a bit after that, but it didn't take long to get back onto that horse named Joe. Living in Seattle, I was even more rapidly enabled, with Starbucks being the most dominant force on our landscape beside doggie bakeries.

It's not a Tiger-Woods-level addiction, but it's nice to know I also have options in every city.