Columns, Opinion

MAOUYO: Call a 12-step, please

I, if nothing else, am a coffee snob. Seriously. I have an espresso/cappuccino machine and a drip coffee machine and I grind my own beans every time I make coffee. (I still don’t have a French press, but let’s not go there.) I not only know that I like coffee with medium body and high acidity, but you’ll never catch me buying whole beans from anywhere but Baltimore Coffee and Tea. I am cognizant of the fact that a real macchiato is a wonderful thing that most people will never have. I’ve ordered a red-eye, a black-eye and a shot-in-the-dark, and know that two of those things are the same (look it up if you want to ante up your ordering prowess), not to mention I’ve actively watched barista competitions on the Food Network and Travel Channel. I’ll tell anyone that listens that Starbucks over-roasts their beans, that Dunkin’ Donuts has too little caffeine and that if I had a bread machine, unroasted beans and a heat gun, I could make the best damn cup of java anyone has ever had. Trust me.

Not that that will ever stop me from buying a drink at Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts or a church bake sale or from a homeless person, because like most coffee snobs, I am also a raging coffee addict. Luckily enough, I can go days without coffee without caffeine headaches or fatigue (these periods of time have been mere accidents), but why would I choose not drink the most wonderful liquid known to man? The nuances of hints of chocolate and florals, the dramatic names ‘- ‘Ethiopian Yirgacheffe,’ ‘Tanzania Peaberry,’ ‘Indian Monsoon Malabar,’ to name a few ‘-‘- and the sometimes overwhelming possibilities of drink customization would be infantile to pass up. Sure, I risk high blood pressure or something like that, but I’d rather coffee be my life-blood anyway ‘-‘- the brown liquid pumped through my system and dripped through fresh grounds every time it circulates back through the heart. That is a livelihood to be revered.

The only problem with addiction, is, well, the addiction part. So when I want it, I want it now. And you know who screws that up for me? Mr./Ms. triple-half-caf-soy-latte-with-two-pumps-of-shoot-me-in-the-face-my-coffee-will-take-a-fraction-of-the-time-to-make-that-yours-will. Which has led me to develop my idea for a coffee shop called Triage, where the simpler your coffee order, the higher in the queue you go. If you don’t get the name, do a little research or go to the emergency room with a scraped knee and see how long it takes to get treatment. Getting back to the issue at hand, there’s no reason that someone should have to wait 10 minutes for a small coffee because someone else got there first and spurted out 20 words that referred to their drink in some way. If you’ve got the capital, steal my idea. I just want a (significant) cut.

The other common coffee-addiction style-cramper is the guy/girl who doesn’t think that anyone could have possibly ordered the same drink he/she did, and definitely not before him/her. So you’re stuck at the counter, arguing with some misanthrope about a drink that is no doubt yours just because he/she doesn’t understand what a line is or how waiting works.

Then there’s the whole money thing that addiction affects. You know that kid that steals from his mom for his high? Or that episode of CSI/Law & Order/NCIS/insert-crime-drama-here that turns out to be nothing but a senseless murder for some drug money? Neither situation describes me. But as much as I try to justify it, coffee addiction isn’t extremely fiscally responsible. Sure, a pot of coffee is cheap to make if you buy whole beans. A pound of great quality coffee is rarely more than $15; incredible coffee (per pound) shouldn’t run you more than $25. (Ask the guy in ‘Pulp Fiction.’ He buys the good stuff, too.) But it’s not like I can whip out a coffee machine anytime I need a fix.

Now even though I’ve known for a long time that I am a coffee addict, I’ve only recently come to grips with the fact that this might not be in my best interests, a truth that would seem implied in the word ‘addict’ and yet was somehow happily ignored. Luckily enough, this realization coincided with my epiphany that my tastes are not the be-all and end-all.

Allow me to explain. Similarly to most people, I like what I like and think that everyone should like what I like. And though it’s slightly difficult to speak for the entirety of human existence, I’m fairly sure that we all tend to be moderately judgmental when other people enjoy something that we absolutely despise. But during a typical taste-bashing session in my brain this summer, I asked myself, who was I to judge another person’s creature comforts? It’s not only childish, but also intolerably ignorant, to pass even silent judgment on someone’s choices that are not hurtful to themselves or anyone else. I think we should strive to have a caring, critical eye and not a poisonous one. Armed with this vision, I can ask, why I should deny myself my comforts?

Boy, do I sound like an addict. Of course, acceptance is the first step.

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