Monday, February 25, 2008

A Meditation on Coffee

Coffee seems to have adapted a certain image over the years. It’s been used to represent studiousness and a strong work ethic. It’s been used to represent addiction and, ironically, even a healthy lifestyle (especially when someone orders a coffee with a shot of soy and a touch of skim milk). And, at times, its been used as a symbol of status and sophistication, depending on where the coffee is bought (e.g. Starbucks) and how it’s made (“I’ll have a Venti Macchiato with a dash of Madagascar cinnamon and some soy milk gently stirred in.”). If people were approached with this matter, there’s no doubt that some would try to deny this to varying degrees. But, the truth is, everyone’s familiar with this trend and, by now, it’s a basic given that America’s most popular drug has become one of America’s most popular means for people to wordlessly “communicate” with each other.

Who would have known that coffee, out all things, would have become such a measure of comparison or a means of classifying other people?

Every time I visit my local Starbucks, in the afternoon, I always see a group of young high school kids in line to pick up their “Tall Vanilla Lattes” or “Grande Frappucino’s”. With their hip clothing and their cutting edge cell-phones glued to their ears, they carry their cups with a certain non-chalant, yet extremely peacocking, manner. Not only are they way too young for coffee, but something tells me that at least one of the reasons why they’re there is for the style as opposed to basic necessity. Because, as crazy at it may seem, something tells me that they’re not struggling with a 40-60 hour work week and are in a desperate need of a caffeine fix to get them through the rest of the day.

Of course, many other things have been and continue to be used by people as a way classifying and dividing each other (cloths, cars, jewelry, etc.). That would never change. But coffee? Come on!

Feel free to call me a bitter old man or a narrow minded philistine. Heck, don’t even be afraid to call me a hypocrite (because I probably am to a certain degree with this subject--feel free, hipsters, to laugh at the irony of that). But there’s just something repulsive about making such a common thing as coffee into a status symbol. But that’s just me. Now, where did I put my Starbucks™ Grande Café Mocha?

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