In Praise of Coffee

Jan 14th, 2013 by Nicholas Pell in Personal

There really are fewer things that I love in this world more than coffee. I’ve quit smoking several months ago, but thinking about quitting coffee is a bit like thinking about cutting off a limb; It’s just nothing that I’m going to seriously consider.

My love affair with coffee began at a young age. I was on a plane to see grandma for the summer and I’d always wanted to try coffee. There was something about seeing people in movies order coffee that attracted me, something decidedly urbane about holding a cup of Joe. I was 9 years old and already starting to identify with anything outside of the crappy little town I grew up in, anything happening in the “big cities” that I so desperately wished I had access to, even at that young age.

The first cup of coffee I ever drank was regular (for those who don’t live in the Northeast this means milk and sugar — not black), prepared by a stewardess. Unfortunately for the flight attendants and the other passengers, I didn’t stop at one. Do you have any idea what an already rambunctious 9-year-old boy is like after downing five cups of coffee with lots of sugar in them? By the time my plane landed I could feel my hair growing. My grandmother instantly knew something was amiss and I wasn’t allowed coffee for most of the rest of the trip.

My late Uncle Bob did, however, bring me out to coffee with his cronies one early morning before I headed back to New England. This was the first time I really participated in the ritual of morning coffee; Stirring in packets of sugar and non-dairy creamer, breaking off pieces of breakfast cake and savoring the way they paired with the hot, bitter liquid. The next fall I started middle school and decided that, being a worldly man of 10, it was time for me to begin my mornings with a cup of coffee.

I’m not sure at what point I ditched the cream and sugar, but now I only drink coffee black for the most part; Sometimes I get in an odd mood and want a diabetes-inducing flavored latte from a certain evil coffee corporation that gives health insurance to part-time employees. Really, though coffee is never too dark; In fact it can’t really ever be dark enough. Contrary to the common misconception, this means that I prefer coffee with less caffeine in it, as darker beans are roasted longer, burning off more caffeine in the process. There’s a reason that “breakfast blends” tend to be transparent.

My home was anomalous for many reasons, but one in particular amused a friend: The Pell household had two coffee makers, one for my dad’s hazelnut and one for my blacker-than-midnight-on-a-moonless-night cups.

So what is it I like about coffee? The taste and the buzz, obviously, but there’s so much more. There’s the smell of a fresh pot brewing, the feeling of heat in my mouth, even my slowly growing collection of coffee mugs boasting clever slogans and advertising products and bands that I like. I’m not sure there’s anything I don’t┬álike about coffee, except for the fact that it makes me a little jittery from time to time.

Then again, at other times, coffee is just what my tortured soul needs. There’s the odd time where I’m feeling a little edgy and two or five cups of coffee help me to break through a wall into a realm of pure concentration where anxiety and fear don’t exist. In these moments, I am an immortal, detached from and above everything, looking down on the ants of humanity without a care for their feelings or desires, or even the outcomes of my own actions.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need a warmer…

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