Daily Rants
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2002-09-24 18:17:40 (UTC)


This is part of the reason I swore off caffeine and all
other coffee type products:

(Don't know where I found this...)

I have exciting news for anybody who would like to pay a
lot of money for coffee that has passed all the way through
an animal's digestive tract. And you just know there are
plenty of people who would. Specialty coffees are very
popular these days, attracting millions of consumers, every
single one of whom is standing in line ahead of me whenever
I go to the coffee place at the airport to grab a quick cup
on my way to catch a plane. These consumers are always
ordering mutant beverages with names like ``mocha-almond-
honey-vinaigrette lattespressacino,'' beverages that must be
made one at a time via a lengthy and complex process
involving approximately one coffee bean, three quarts of
dairy products and what appears to be a small nuclear
reactor. Meanwhile, back in the line, there is growing
impatience among those of us who just want a plain old cup
of coffee so that our brains will start working and we can
remember what our full names are and why we are catching an
airplane. We want to strike the lattespressacino people
with our carry-on baggage and scream ``GET OUT OF OUR
course we couldn't do anything that active until we've had
our coffee.
It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a
genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind
people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational
activity. I bet this kind of thing does not happen to
heroin addicts. I bet that when serious heroin addicts go
to purchase their heroin, they do not tolerate waiting in
line while some dilettante in front of them orders a
hazelnut smack-a-cino with cinnamon sprinkles. The reason
some of us need coffee is that it contains caffeine, which
makes us alert. Of course it is very important to remember
that caffeine is a drug, and, like any drug, it is a lot of
No! Wait! What I meant to say is: Like any drug, caffeine
can have serious side effects if we ingest too much. This
fact was first noticed in ancient Egypt when a group of
workers, who were supposed to be making a birdbath, began
drinking Egyptian coffee, which is very strong, and wound
up constructing the pyramids.
I myself developed the coffee habit in my early 20s, when,
as a ``cub'' reporter for the Daily Local News in West
Chester, Pa., I had to stay awake while writing phenomenally
boring stories about municipal government. I got my coffee
from a vending machine that also sold hot chocolate and
chicken-noodle soup; all three liquids squirted out of a
single tube, and they tasted pretty much the same. But I
came to need that coffee, and even today I can do nothing
useful before I've had several cups. (I can't do anything
useful afterward, either; that's why I'm a columnist.)
But here's my point: This specialty-coffee craze has gone
too far. I say this in light of a letter I got recently
from alert reader Bo Bishop. He sent me an invitation he
received from a local company to a ``private tasting of the
highly prized Luwak coffee,'' which ``at $300 a pound . . .
is one of the most expensive drinks in the world.'' The
invitation states that this coffee is named for the luwak,
a ``member of the weasel family'' that lives on the Island
of Java and eats coffee berries; as the berries pass
through the luwak, a ``natural fermentation'' takes place,
and the berry seeds -- the coffee beans -- come out of the
luwak intact. The beans are then gathered, washed, roasted
and sold to coffee connoisseurs.
The invitation states: ``We wish to pass along this once in
a lifetime opportunity to taste such a rarity.'' Or, as Bo
Bishop put it: ``They're selling processed weasel doodoo
for $300 a pound.''
I first thought this was a clever hoax designed to ridicule
the coffee craze. Tragically, it is not. There really is a
Luwak coffee. I know because I bought some from a specialty-
coffee company in Atlanta. I paid $37.50 for two ounces of
beans. I was expecting the beans to look exotic,
considering where they'd been, but they looked like regular
coffee beans. In fact, for a moment I was afraid that they
were just regular beans, and that I was being ripped off.
Then I thought: What kind of world is this when you worry
that people might be ripping you off by selling you coffee
that was NOT pooped out by a weasel?
So anyway, I ground the beans up and brewed the coffee and
drank some. You know how sometimes, when you're really
skeptical about something, but then you finally try it, you
discover that it's really good, way better than you would
have thought possible? This is not the case with Luwak
coffee. Luwak coffee, in my opinion, tastes like somebody
washed a dead cat in it.
But I predict it's going to be popular anyway, because it's
expensive. One of these days, the people in front of me at
the airport coffee place are going to be ordering decaf
poopacino. I'm thinking of switching to heroin.