The way I see it, there are two kinds of people: normal folks like me who can't so much as blink properly until they've had a minimum of two cups of coffee to start the day. And you mutant freaks of nature who skip coffee in the morning in favor of something outlandish like sweet tea with lemon.
Really? Sweet tea with lemon? Are you even from this planet?
I've always had it, this absolute dependence on the bean. Back in the day, I'd stumble out of bed, boil water and reach for the Folger's instant the way a crack addict reaches for the pipe.
Later, I graduated from instant coffee when some genius — who should be celebrated with as much passion as we celebrate Columbus or the guy who created the squeezable ketchup bottle — invented a machine that not only brewed your coffee, but allowed you to set a timer the night before. That's life-changing technology right there. With that, there was no need to work the complex top of a jar or try to measure out two heaping tablespoons with your eyes only 1/100th of a percent unglued.
Brilliant! The world of java took its greatest step since that first Neanderthal munched on a coffee bean and stayed awake for three days cleaning his cave.
Still, I was no coffee snob. In those days, I would drink anything that loosely resembled coffee, including gas station coffee that had been burning in a pot for three days. I would gladly accept instant coffee if it was offered and even shovel in some of that powdered creamer (which is really just chalk recycled from classrooms all over the country) if there was no authentic cream to be had.
The Keurig changed everything. With the Keurig, you get not only speed and simplicity, but restaurant-caliber flavor, as well. No more coffee that tastes like liquefied cardboard. No more waiting up to five long minutes for your coffee to finish brewing. The Keurig raised the coffee experience several notches.
These days, if somebody offers me instant, I look at them with the same expression of displeasure I'd muster if they'd offered me a cup stuffed with their dirty underwear. Gas station coffee? What, are you high?
With coffee, you tend to be indifferent or all in. It appeals to us because, when you get right down to it, coffee is a legal drug. We need it first thing in the morning, even more than we need things like love or security. We sneak out of work several times a day and head downtown and get our fix. We give it clever street names like Java or Joe. Without regular doses of the stuff, we are glassy-eyed zombies who will bark at you just for saying hello. If it was ever made illegal, you'd find us huddled under bridges, clutching our cups with shaking hands and cursing The Man for trying to keep us down.
If it ever happens, look me up. I know a guy.
Coming up next: The coffee issue takes another complex twist as the battle rages between Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts.
Really? Starbucks over Dunkin'? Are you high?
Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. If you are, in fact, high (and not on caffeine), email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.