Coffee or Tea?
J. Kent Sprague on 01/13/2012
I haven't had a cup of coffee in over fifty years. I not only don't like the taste of the stuff, but even the smell almost makes me nauseous. Instead, I stick to my midwestern roots and drink tea year round, with iced tea being the preferred kind, except in the coldest weather.
I quit drinking coffee a few months after I was married, when I innocently commented to my bride that I didn't particularly like the taste of it. She told me that I didn't have to continue drinking coffee, so Folgers and Maxwell House have been struggling ever since. My only exception was when I drank a cup in a small restaurant in the wilderness of northern Minnesota when it was minus fifty degrees outside. I considered pouring it in my boots, but the mug of coffee was the only thing they had that was hot enough to provide the thawing needed for my fingers.
Margie drinks enough coffee for both of us. She started when she was a teen-aged camp counselor, so that everyone would know she was a staff member and not one of the campers. Later, she worked in newspaper production rooms where everyone stayed alert late at night by constantly re-fueling with caffeine. Out of habit, she still drinks several cups a day at work.
I realize that I am in the minority because of my disdain for coffee. I routinely turn my coffee cup upside down in restaurants as soon as I sit down to keep a waitress from filling it up before I can stop her. Grandchildren Ella and Bennett once thought it was a great practical joke on Grandpa to order me a cup of coffee in a restaurant before I got to the table. They both know that "Maybe later" is a softer version of saying "No thank you" to a cup of coffee. It really can be translated to "Probably not in my lifetime."
Madison, Connecticut appears to be a town full of coffee drinkers. We have a couple of the ubiquitous Dunkin Donuts shops popular in New England. I once counted eleven locations within a one-block section of downtown where you can buy a cup of coffee. There are at least three spots within that block with chairs and small tables on the sidewalk where you can relax, drink your coffee and be seen by the important people. The Madison Coffee Shop entertains about three shifts per day of regulars from six to ten in the morning who meet to drink coffee and swap lies about politics, current events, golf, fishing and other seasonal sports. There are even a couple of brave women who regularly join the coffee klatch to keep up on the local gossip.
Our town moved into the modern era several years ago with the addition of a Starbucks for the hip crowd. I don't think they allow folks in the place unless they are carrying an iPhone, laptop or some other electronic toy that I can't identify. I would be as out of place at Starbucks as I would be if I showed up in a tuxedo at a goat roping.
Even if I drank coffee, I couldn't handle the ordering process at Starbucks. I don't know a macchiato from a frappuccino and would be totally intimidated by a perky barista speaking a language that is totally foreign to me. All the available options and complex combinations would immediately brand me well below the superior hip and cool crowd. I think I'll just keep drinking iced tea. It's easier to order.