On Coffee


She sits in  her ample armchair, with piles of books and unopened magazines around her. She sips cautiously from the mug of weak herb tea that is now her substitute for coffee. At one time she thought that she could not live without coffee, but it turned out that it is really the warm large mug she wants in her hands, that is the aid to thought or whatever it is she practises through the procession of hours, or of days.

– Alice Munro, from Free Radicals.

Coffee: generally quite boring as a topic of conversation.

So excuse me for contradicting myself completely by composing an entire blog post about the stuff.

photo by Wiedmaier

Maybe it’s Facebook. Maybe it’s Twitter. Maybe it’s just life being… well, pretty damn boring 99% of the time. Everyone’s talking about coffee. How much they’ve had, how much they haven’t had, how much they need some… That’s not the individual’s fault. It’s because most people do boring jobs, and boring jobs need doing. When I did a boring job I remember a lot of my mental energy was spent counting down minutes until my next break. Breaks included coffee.

It pays not to be a connoisseur. Not of coffee, not of anything. The more you know about wine/beef steaks/cheesy wotsits the more of a pain in the backside you are to feed.

Same with coffee. There are some people in this world I don’t want to make coffee for. These people include, but are not limited to:

1. Those who insist on one and a half teaspoons of sugar. (You ask for one and a half, you’re getting two. I’ve had no complaints so far.)

2. Those who take their coffee different every time I see them. (You can’t keep changing the rules of a game.)

3. Those who regularly hang out at coffee establishments (my home brew can’t compete with that) and wax lyrical about “Enjoying a Latté from Giraffe at T5. Great coffee you know!”

Some more coffee chestnuts:

1. Oh my god, it’s too early. I haven’t had my second cup of coffee. (Don’t blame the coffee. I’m a grumpy mare in the mornings but coffee ain’t nothing to do with that.)

2. Oh my god, I’ve gone a whole day without coffee. “i seriously need to cut back 10 cups of coffee a day at a minimum is NOT healthy!” Or, I’ve got such a rotten, stinking headache, or “Pretty sure I’ll get the caffeine shakes in a minute.” (Time you cut back, then. Or had another cup of coffee.)

3. I just can’t stand [insert brand] coffee. How can anyone drink that? It tastes of rat poison. (This is Calvin Klein and Reebok, applied to coffee.) I agree there is such a thing as bad coffee, but there are also bad apples and you don’t hear people moaning about that all the livelong day. If you don’t like a certain brand of coffee, don’t drink it.

4. Websites with a pretend coffee stain in the header. It used to be cool. Now it’s Done-Before.

5. Documents that come back to you with coffee stains on them. (You can never be sure it’s coffee. Just because it’s brown doesn’t mean it’s safe. Quite the contrary.) Please, people, don’t put a coffee mark on it just to show how overworked you are. You don’t need to scent-mark my documents just to show you did actually read it. That proves nothing. Go piss on a tree.

Other Annoying Things Involving Coffee

1. Coffee breath

2. Coffee turds (Yes, well, I may not have conducted a scientific experiment but you can’t tell me you haven’t noticed toilet cubicles recently vacated by the heaviest consumers of coffee in your office.)

3. Unfair trade prices for coffee growers.

4. Noisy bloody coffee machines in small cafes with no soft-furnishings and wonderful acoustics, in which require patrons are required to yell at each other from either side of one small table, or to talk into each other’s ear as if whispering. With coffee breath.

5. When you order your coffee in a cafe, it takes the barista way longer to make the coffee than to dish up your food. By the time you get your coffee, you’ve already wolfed down your cake, and would like to get out of there already.

6. Coffee mugs with lipstick stains on them.

7. Coffee, like smoking, is socially divisive.

“Science may never come up with a better office communication system than the coffee break.”

– Earl Wilson

There are those ‘In-the-coffee-pool’ and those out of it. Coffee drinkers are loyal to their beans as sports lovers are loyal to their teams.

8. Prancing round the office with a mug of coffee does not achieve the look you’re hoping for i.e. productive but relaxed. It makes you look like a slacker.

9. Bad jokes. “I like my women like I like I like my coffee: Puerto Rican.”

10. A real-life example of a boring conversation involving coffee:

Him: “You know the problem with coffee is um, ah, um, ah…”

Me: “It’s addictive.”

Him: “No. Well, it’s that too. But it’s um, ah, um, ah…”

Me: “A diuretic.”

Him: “No. Well, it’s that too. But it’s um, ah, um, ah…”

Me: “A stimulant.”

Him: “No. Well, it’s that too. But it’s um, ah, um, ah…”

Me: “An irritant.”

Him: “Yes.”


For the record, I’m not a coffee tee-totaler myself. I drink coffee most days, with the odd few weeks of abstinence. (I hate to be addicted to stuff, even if it is just caffeine.)

I quite enjoy a cup of tea, me. Yes, I even bought a teapot, after observing that other people’s tea tasted much better than my own dunk-a-bag-in-a-cup jobbies. Those people tended to own such things as ‘teapots’.

Soon as I get a teapot and a box of leaves, a friend says I’ve turned into a classic ‘tea snob’.

I got rid of the teapot.

Semi-Not-Really-Related Links: Caffeine Makes You Crazy In The Ears; You Should Also Feel Bad About The Coffee You Drink.