|© David Hartman|
Don't get me wrong. This isn't an "I ain't as good as I once was" admission. I'm every bit as good as I once was. Maybe better. Snark and cynicism age like wine. But I am different.
Twenty years ago, I was one of them. A coffee snob. A Java Dave's groupie. Java Dave's was as gourmet as you got in these parts before Starbucks invaded, blighting the landscape like locusts in Pharoah's garden. Three times a day, five days a week, at least once on Saturday. I was so groupie that I starred in one of their local television ads. Somewhere in the bookcase in the guest bedroom is an old VHS recording of that commercial. Anyone remember VHS? Then you remember back to when I had hair. No, really. The commercial proves it.
Back in the day, you could put 10 different cups of black coffee on the table in front of me, and after one sip, I could tell you what country the beans came from and get it right at least eight times out of 10. But it wasn't just the coffee. Before they got too big for their britches, Java Dave's was Oklahoma City's Cheers. It was a place where the Norms and the Cliffs and the Davids of the world could waltz in, sit down and get a little attention before going back to work, to home, or whatever else we had to endure between visits to Java Dave's.
Over time, things changed. The price of coffee went up; the buying power of my paycheck went down. Fifteen to 20 cups of coffee a week at $2 a pop didn't make financial sense. And then Sam sold the bar. Java Dave's franchised. Shelley Long was out; Kirstie Alley was in. It just wasn't the same anymore.
That background led to one of those "I can't believe what I just heard myself say" moments tonight after a random conversation with the Geezer. She was watching TV as I was passing through the living room. Starbucks was advertising coffee. The word "blonde" caught my attention. That's not the unbelievable part. Apparently, Starbucks is selling sissy coffee now. I didn't see the whole commercial, but I'm assuming from what I saw that "blonde" is coffee that isn't quite roasted all the way. So you can, you know, technically drink coffee without the coffee taste. Or something like that.
Geezer: "Is that Starbucks?"
Me: "Looks like it."
Geezer: "Do you like Starbucks?"
Me. "They're pretty proud of their coffee these days. I'll have to be awful thirsty before I'll pay four bucks for a cup of coffee."
Geezer: "But is it good coffee?"
Me: "Eh. Coffee's coffee."
Coffee's coffee. Wow. I actually said that.
But it's true. Sure, some people make it too strong. Some people make it too weak. Sometimes it sits on the warmer too long and tastes burnt. Other times not. At the end of the day, it's still just coffee.
Coffee is an institution, not a gourmet experience. Fathers and sons sit down and talk over coffee, whether it's "the talk" or just about cars or jobs or football. Young college boys and young college girls dream and giggle and flirt for hours on end over cups of coffee at Denny's, breaking the sickening gaze only long enough for the occasional, inevitable potty break. Don't forget to tip the waitress on your way out, loverboy. She's got kids to feed. Business deals are consummated over coffee. One man gives his word, another man takes it with a handshake over a cup of coffee. And it doesn't really matter where the beans are from, how it's brewed, or whether it's tree-hugger organic.
That doesn't mean I don't still have strong feelings about coffee. I still wanna go all drill sergeant on the "double froth, extra chocolate, one shot vanilla, two shots raspberry with some nonfat whipped cream and sprinkles" dessert drinkers who try to pass that off as "drinking coffee." They remind me of the "that's why yellow makes me sad, I think," jackwagon in the Geico commercial. (Find it here: http://youtu.be/XfmVBmDKLZI) You want chocolate cake? Nothing wrong with that. Just go to a bakery and get you some. But this is a coffee shop.
Through all my coffee evolution, one truth hasn't changed. Friends still don't let friends drink decaf. Ever. When your doctor says you need to switch to decaf, you need to switch your doctor.
Now if I could just get Mavis to come by with a warm-up.