Hello. My name is Jason, and I drink coffee.
On Monday morning, my coffee is bold and black. By mid-week, sugar and creamer are standard fare, and by Friday night, coffee resembles an ice-cream sundae, topped with cinnamon, chocolate and whipped cream.
But it wasn’t always that way.
As a kid I was intrigued by coffee. This drink was not recommended to the young or faint of heart. It was a ‘grown-ups only’ beverage. But even then there was no denying the allure of the Coffee Culture, or that I would someday join it. Everyone had a coffee pot in the kitchen, and everyone had a coffee table in the living room. Coffee was brewing over cinematic campfires, keeping cowboys warm on those frosty mornings on the range. It was brewing on Saturday mornings, when my grandparents would invite friends over to talk and partake of the mystic beverage. It was plentiful every Sunday at church, and it was even present at school, where every teacher had a cup on their desk.
As an adult it beckoned from the corner donut shops, and it was placed prominently in each break room of every place I have ever worked. Every one of those jobs even came with government mandated ‘coffee breaks’. Eventually I gave in to the alluring aroma and I haven’t looked back.
Simply put, coffee is everywhere.
From a musician’s perspective, coffee shops are great places to perform. Coffee people appreciate good music, and free coffee is always good payment.
Coffee is both comforting and invigorating. A freshly-brewed pot of coffee assures us that Juan Valdez is still out there somewhere sending us the finest beans in Columbia, that Peter will be home for Christmas, and that all kinds of meaningful conversation can still be had ‘over a cup of coffee’. No matter what is going on in life, we can always talk about it over coffee.
Coffee is the quiet player behind our national political heritage. President Obama’s historical 2008 inaugural speech was written on a laptop at Starbucks in Washington D.C., and even Thomas Jefferson deemed coffee “the favorite drink of the civilized world”. I can just imagine Jefferson writing the Declaration of Independence at a Philadelphia café. Over a cup of coffee. And do we really think the rest of the Founding Fathers got through those late-night Congressional meetings without it?
The great composer J. S. Bach was well-known as an avid coffee aficionado. His whimsical piece, “The Coffee Cantata” was a satirical look at coffee addiction, which was apparently a scandalous social problem in 1732. The unusual cantata contains memorable quips such as “How sweet coffee tastes! Lovelier than a thousand kisses, sweeter than Muscatel wine!”, and” Without my morning coffee, I’m just like a dried up piece of roast goat.” Admittedly not his finest work, and the roast goat analogy is indeed a bit disturbing, but what kind of lyrics do you expect the man to write after four cups of coffee?
Take a drive around most American cities, and you will notice there is a coffee shop on nearly every corner these days. Of course, most people prefer the ones with free wi-fi. Because the morning brew of Ward Cleaver has even made itself a staple of our fast-paced technological world.
Coffee is everywhere.
We celebrate over coffee, we wake up with coffee, we fall in love and break things off over coffee, we seek solitude and friendship over coffee. We pray, read, think, laugh, cry, work and play over coffee.
Love it or hate it, we are a Coffee Culture, and coffee is not going away anytime soon.
At least that’s the way I see it. . .