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Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Confession

All right, I’m going to admit something here that may shock and dismay you. There are those who will call for my deportation. For others, simple imprisonment will suffice. However, regardless of the consequences, I must speak. I’ve lived this double life for too long, and I must come clean.

Okay. Here goes. The truth is, I like cheap coffee. Don’t bring me the Kona roast, the Venezualian Fruit Bat, or Extra Bitter Blend. Spare me the Starbucks coffee of the moment. I like the stuff I can buy in a can at the supermarket. Actually, because I use either a percolator or a French press, I have to buy whole bean coffee and then grind it to those specifications. But the truth is that I like getting the Folgers French Vanilla, not the Exotic African Blend or the Hawaiian Jangle. Plain, old coffee. That’s me.

I can remember the first time someone foisted some fancy coffee off on me, back in ’83. The friend was well intended. Fresh off the boat from Rhode Island, I was still a little wet behind the ears and green around the gills. I mean, I had left a place that was stuck in the year 1936 to come to a city that was relatively modern and forward looking. She was trying to inculcate me in the ways of sophistication, and she really meant me no harm. And it wasn’t her fault that the cup of coffee she handed me tasted—to me—like the bottom of an aborigine’s foot.

However, I felt the pressure of her earnest desire to please, and engineered a smile, and managed to force out some compliments. That most of that cup ended up gracing the bottom of a trashcan and that I much preferred the brew I got (and still get) from Waffle House remained a secret. A secret I’ve held until this very day.

I feel like a different man. My soul is unburdened. And I’ll await the Coffee Patrol with a serene heart and a mild cup.


Stephanie said...

Your confession pains me. What will Starbucks do without you?? How will the great chain survive? Next you'll be telling me you prefer Lipton tea. Oh, the agony!

Robert G. Margolis said...


For me, your "simple imprisonment will suffice". That way, en vogue with the trend reported in your previous piece, you can work for sub-hominoid wages--perhaps as enforced taste tester and one-man focus group for some corporate coffee gargantua's marketing division's experiments in how best to assault the public with their latest designer coffees and mutant blends.

Starbucks' stuff--isn't that some species and genus of inks, perhaps using squid ink as a base?

Me too, give me the diner coffees, or Duncan Donuts brew, or, especially, my beloved grandmother's own brew. Her old percolator had some real flavor magic in it. And, yes, I too grind the beans. Of course, and this is my confession, drinking coffee is an excuse to combine the milk and turbindo brown sugar, leaving some degree of the coffee flavor.

Some Lakota folks call it the "black medecine". I agree. And its medicinal properties are best imbibed cheap, humble, and without requiring a genetic modification of one's sensibilities.

Anonymous said...

Now wait a minute- which is it, plain old coffee or Folgers French Vanilla? Folgers Shoe Bottom is plain old coffee but when you put in the Euronilla, you are out of the diner and down the street at the hairdresser.
What I like is Peet's French Roast, brewed black as Rumsfeld's heart. What I can afford is probably Yuban. Yuban pretty clear to me...

Juan Validate

Len said...

I knew this was going to be a controversial post. All right, here go the responses:

Robert, I agree about Dunkin Donuts. In Rhode Island, you can go in and order a “coffee regular” (pronounced “cawfee regyalah”) and they ask you what size. You see, a regular coffee is one with cream and sugar. And how they pile in the sugar! I think it’s a spoonful for each ounce of liquid. Good cawfee.

Juan, I’ll defend my pedigree to the end. The French vanilla thing is simply an addiction. Yuban could squirt some imitation vanilla extract flavoring solution into their coffee and I’d be just fine. The good folks at Folgers simply save me the trouble of having to buy French Vanilla creamer by injecting their beans with imitation vanilla extract flavoring solution. And I am indebted to them.

You have to understand, my Dad, when we lived in San Francisco, worked as a truck driver for Hills Brothers. His job was to go to places like Yuban and pick up the beans they didn’t want and take them back to Hills Brothers for processing. Yuban was uptown by those standards. So, you see, swillish coffee is in my blood.

Tom said...

I must confess, I am truly shocked! SHOCKED I SAY! I have known this man since he reached puberty - well, since he was 13 (I do not have any actual evidence that he has - in fact - reached puberty).

He was an odd little man then, but a man who had assumed the very semblance of a Rhode Islander. And, as such, grew to love the roast of the Dunkin Donuts.

But I must confess too to this confession. Having gone off to the big city, I fell in with a dangerous crowd at Boston's now defunct "Coffee Connection" (sadly, taken over by Starbucks), and now cannot live without the exalted bean.

When will it end? When will it end?

Len said...

And I don’t have any evidence that Tom ever emerged from puberty.

You see, I had to say that because this was how we communicated back then, through the medium of slander. It’s not that we weren’t close, because we were. We met when we were twelve, actually, and started hanging out regularly when we were about 14. We were very close friends then until we were about 19 and Tom transferred from college (of a sort) in Rhode Island to Clark University in Worcester. From then on, the forces of time and distance wedged themselves between us.

And you know what? In all those years, I don’t think we ever once went out specifically for coffee.

Len said...
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