Bean Thinking

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two kinds of people in this world. Coffee people and tea people. I have no plans to deal with the tea people here, they are an insular and rather cliquish bunch and need nothing from me.

On the coffee side, we find two distinct subgroups—coffee drinkers and people who drink coffee. I’ve also heard rumors about a rebel faction that drinks nothing but decaf. I don’t believe it, but if they really do exist, I want nothing to do with them.

I am a coffee drinker. I live with someone who drinks coffee. It’s a mixed marriage.

This is not to say that my love will drink any old slop, although she has been known to drink Tim Horton’s when pressed. Living in Canada and speaking ill of Tim Horton’s is flagrantly unpatriotic, but I find their coffee tastes like garlic and smells like cat urine. I have no specific issues with either substance, but I think we can all agree that neither belongs in a hot beverage.

She has a fairly pricey Tassimo in her office, but she persists in using the common as clay Maxwell House pods. Why she would do this when lattes are available remains a mystery to me.

This summer, she finally relented and tried something cold at Starbucks,a mocha frappuccino. The staff assured me that despite its name, it contains no coffee.  It tasted like fluffy chocolate milk. She doesn’t get whipped creamed on it either. If she wasn’t really cute, we’d have never come this far.

For me, coffee is not just a beverage. It is a lifestyle choice and the decisions I make regarding that choice shape my experience of the world. Plus there’s the startling jolt in the back of my neck when I take the first sip of my iced Caffè Mocha. I could live at Starbucks. I love the deep, rich, multi-note aroma of coffee that permeates the air. I love the shiny thermos cups and glassware grouped on the shelves, and the pastries in the food case. I’ve learned not to roll my eyes when the guy ahead of me asks for a half-caf, extra hot, low foam whatever; instead I remind myself that I live in a government town and this may be the only decision he gets to make all day.

I know it’s become cool to hate Starbucks in the same way it’s cool to hate anything successful. But for those of us who worship at the altar of the west coast roast, its very name has become synonymous with coffee. Depending on the intonation of the voice, it can serve as different parts of speech. “Starbucks?” with the voice rising at the end becomes an invitation; “Starbucks!” squealed gleefully means there’s no need to wander another 16 blocks in search of decent coffee. And “Starbucks” bleated weakly, low and barely audible, is a morning 911 call for caffeine.  I have a friend who owns a growing web development company and has to travel a lot. He often tweets his early morning Starbuck’s searches. I always feel better when I know he’s got an Americano in hand. We coffee people are like that. We look out for our own.

We’re also known for our desire to live and let live.  You can have a long-term relationship with a medium bodied Sumatran blend, then wake up one morning and decide you’re going to try a caramel macchiato. Your coffee drinker friends won’t bat an eye. No one’s going to ask you if you need to talk. You won’t have to reassure them that your ex-coffee is doing fine. There won’t be any comments behind your back about how you’re pitching for the other team.

They’ll just nod knowingly and ask you to pass the cream.

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5 Comments on “Bean Thinking”

  1. Jim McGuire says:

    At first I didn’t like Starbucks. I thought the beans were over-roasted. But I have grown to like it.

    I actually divide the world into two slightly different camps. Those who are coffee drinkers, and those who consume coffee drinks.

    • joyparks says:

      For me it was love at first taste. Before they came to Canada, I was charting stop-overs at airports that had Starbucks in their food courts. But I became a fan of Peets coffee when I was in SF… and they originally supplied Starbucks with beans. Love deep heavy west coast roast. And yes, you’re right. That group is particularly visible in the summer. All that ice clinking as you walk down the street.

      To the others who have commented here, thank you so much for reading and caring enough to comment. I hope you’ll stay tuned.

  2. Peter LIndelauf says:

    Life without coffee would not be worth living. Good coffee. Another Google+ via Jim visitor.

  3. jensketch says:

    Just wanted to drop in – Jim McGuire shared this blog on Google+ 🙂 It’s quite wonderful so far and I really enjoy opinion pieces when written with such a flair for language. Looking forward to the rest.

  4. Well I am coffee person indeed. It’s the small things in life that matter.
    Here is an app that I use in canada and USA to find the local coffee shops. It’s simple and works great… Thought I would share

    http://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/coffee-finder/id293644593?mt=8&ls=1


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