Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A cup of joe

As I was ordering a coffee between a break in my early morning class I had a flashback to the days waiting for a coffee at a Starbucks outside of the Westlake Center branch in downtown Seattle four years ago. Those were brutally chilly gray mornings and the Americanos I ordered couldn't hit my stomach soon enough. Then I had another flashback to Redmond seven years back, and driving through a coffee stand near the branch I worked at and the coffees I used to guzzle down to put up with my Cruella DeVille replica boss and just to get the juice to walk through the branch doors. And then yet another one from the coffee shop across the street from the In-store branch inside of a Safeway I worked at in Kirkland over ten years back. Then I was driving my Nissan Pathfinder and motivating myself to walk aisles and sell banking products to people shopping for eggs and milk. Those early morning coffees were my lifeline and my main consistency over the years. It could be a different city, a different job, usually the same dread, and just about the same morning coffee.

A cup of coffee in 1950? How about 5 cents.
It's been ingrained in me, I am a coffee aficionado. It's no longer just fuel just to get going, it has replaced water in my body and blood in my veins as the body fluid of choice. For the past ten years I have drank more coffee than entire cities I'm sure. This would be cities in Arizona and the southwest, the northwest cities drink more than entire continents! I started drinking Mochas years ago and when I saw that my face looked like a I was suckling off a helium tank I switched to the bitter Americanos I still drink to this day. That switch happened in 2004. I even remember the gym I was working out at and the trainer that recommended them, so addicted to my caffeine fix, I can remember the day I switched my morning cup of joe easier than past girls I dated or even close acquaintances. Truth be told, my cup of coffee has been a better friend. It's certainly been more reliable than most, its been consistent, sometimes too bitter, sometimes too sweet, but always familiar.

The first coffee house in England was established in 1654 and is still in existence in Oxford today. The first coffee house ever recorded was in Constantinople in the Ottoman Empire in 1555. They became popular in the US in the 1960's during the folk music and beatnik crowd. Bob Dylan began his career perfoming in them. Nowadays coffee houses are corporate store fronts or drive thrus. Some are locally owned private entities but most are chains. I wonder what the folk music and beatnik writer crowd would think if they saw the transformation of the coffee house from the creative haven they shared to the corporate ballrooms they've become. To me, it's all immaterial, I go for the drink. My day is not set until I shell out 3 bucks for some grounded coffee beans and hot water. They make a solid 2.50 profit margin on my drink a day. So I'm successfully contributing to the well-oiled and caffeinated corporatized machine. I can spew my venom at whatever corporation I am working for at the time while contributing to an even larger one, gotta love it.

I've had some wonderful cups of coffee. I've drank coffee all over the world. Bad Ass coffee is located in Maui. I've had coffee on the beach watching the crashing waves. I've had coffee looking at the canals in Venice and I've had coffee in a truck stop in Turlock trying to keep my eyes open to continue my journey. Mainly however, coffee reminds me of my early mornings and the stages of my life. Where was I ten years ago? I am not sure, but if I am grabbing a morning coffee it may come back to me. If I had a nickel for every cup of coffee I've ever bought and drank I may be able to afford my next cup of coffee.

**Why is it called a cup of joe, you may ask? Well here you go:

The phrase "cup of Joe" goes back to the mid-1840s. Despite the folk etymology that the phrase derives from Josephus Daniels, the Secretary of the Navy who banned the serving of alcohol on ships in 1914, the phrase is known to predate his service.

**Now you know.

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