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The World’s Best Coffee.

6 August 2014

I grew up in Seattle. As a child of the grim Pacific winter, I was bottle-fed coffee from birth. And there is good coffee in Seattle. Little trailers with espresso machines in grocery store parking lots are your best bet for the truly great stuff. Usually operated at a languid pace by someone who desperately wishes they’d been at Woodstock (the real one, in the sixties) and could not possibly be happier that recreational marijuana is now a thing in Washington State. They see it as a matter of civil justice. And they make ruthlessly magnificent coffee and charge you like robber baron.

Thus, I grew up something of a coffee snob. Though, if I’m honest, I grew up as an everything snob, and coffee falls into the set of ‘everything’ as an element. I prefer, all things considered, brewed coffee over espresso. Milk, no sugar. No flavors. Simple, classic. Medium-dark roast. Shade-grown* is a sucker’s cup. Trying to fool you with expensive placebos.

Even in the appalling years of my alcoholism, when I drank vast quantities of liquor and did little else of value, I still drank coffee and appreciated it. And it wasn’t until I entered sobriety that I discovered the best coffee in the world. The very best.

The world’s best coffee can be found all across America. In church basements and community centers. In museum rec-rooms and VA hospital activity areas. It’s usually a store-brand, freeze-dried. But it might be instant. The person making it is probably doing so as a commitment they keep to remind themselves that real happiness comes from serving others. Or because they’ve been told to keep making the coffee until they discover that, and then they might be pissy and resentful about it.

There’s a folding table in the room, probably. And metal chairs. And survivors. And we tell each other our stories. And we share our struggles. And we reclaim our lives from that grim winter.

And some of us fall. And some of us die. I’ve known too many suicides. Too many who slip away and then months later, “Did you hear how they found her?”

But so many of us rise. From ash and bankruptcy and the cold silence of withering misery, we rise to daylight and sunlight and color shining from the apple-cheek of all this impossible beauty around us. This path we walk, out from war-torn desolation and into the serene places of soft green silence. We rise to living. We rise to fellowship.

I am a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous. And if you are where I’ve been, then I can show you how to get where I am. Come have coffee with me. It’s awful. And it’s the best in the world.


*As I understand it (poorly) the concept of “shade grown” was originally about biodiversity in orchards, to ensure that vast areas had more than just coffee trees, for more robust ecosystems. If that’s true, then I obviously have nothing against such efforts. But let’s all be grown-ups and admit it has nothing whatsoever to do with the flavor.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 8 August 2014 06:51


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