As Thanksgiving approaches, I’d like to give an early shout-out to coffee for keeping me awake and alert (somewhat, anyway) throughout each day.
For the first 25 years or so of my life, I don’t think I much less had a sip of coffee, never mind a full cup. That changed, though, while living and working in New York City for a four-year span between 1991 and 1995. It was the Thursday night routine — going to a nightclub known as Webster Hall until the wee hours, then going out for breakfast before getting home at 4 a.m. or thereabouts — that led me to first buying cappuccinos with a little chocolate thrown in to awaken my groggy self for work Friday morning. These cappuccinos weren’t coffee to me, they were a liquid dessert of sorts. But they were also (gadzooks) a couple bucks a pop, which seemed a little crazy considering there was always a pot of free regular coffee in the breakroom every day, all day long.
So, eventually, I developed a taste for plain ol’ joe. And there’s been no turning back ever since.
Nowadays, my morning routine consists of grinding enough beans for two cups of coffee — one to down at home, the other to bring to work. Once my wife bought me a grinder a couple of years ago, I’ve very rarely (save a gift of pre-ground coffee) not used it during a morning I’ve been at home. I’ve even brought it on vacations.
Now, Starbucks — which I’ve had a kind of love/hate relationship with over the years (I used to decry the fact they competed with locally owned coffee shops; now, I often buy their whole bean coffee at the grocery store) — has come up with a product that I just might try bringing on a weekend camping trip, rather than taking a chance and consuming a gas station blend after waking up in the a.m. And, according to an informal poll taken at The Forum in Fargo, N.D., Starbucks VIA Ready Brew — the company’s new instant coffee — may well be better than most in the just-add-water variety. It’s not in stores, yet, however, which means that I’ll have to venture over to Sioux Falls, S.D., if I want to buy a sample of the stuff.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to adhere to my usual coffee-drinking routine, which now has begun to include an iced mocha coffee from the Casey’s east location that is surprisingly tasty. However, after figuring out how much I’ve spent on this little concoction recently, I’m tempted to lobby those folks to create a low-priced, instant version. After all, in the end, I suppose whole-bean snobbery is less importantly than simply getting a good caffeine buzz.