The price of coffee

It’s 1901 and coffee is a commodity.

Great Granddad was a farmer. Somewhere down in Central America. Pulling coffee beans off the pod that grows on the stalky thing with the green flappy leafs and the cocoa blossoms … fine, I have no idea where coffee beans come from. But I’m sure the days were long, the sun was hot and that mule was scratchy. And, he’ll tell you all about it over a cup of coffee that his wife makes by squeezing the juice out of the toasted brown beans in a big burlap sack in the backyard next to the fresh chitlins… fine, I don’t know how you get the coffee out of the bean either, but I bet it was hard. And, that coffee’s weak. But enjoy, that’ll be 5 cents.

It’s 1945 and coffee is a product

Granddad fought in the war – you know the big one. He spent 15 years poking Nazis in the eye only to come back to a 10×20 cape cod shack in a Levitt town suburb to have pot roast for dinner with his top heavy Donna Reed wife and 2.5 kids. He’s the greatest generation, just ask Tom Brokaw, and he’ll tell you all about it over a cup of coffee. Rosy the Riveter will whip up a cup out of that good to the last drop tin can in the back of the formica covered cupboard next to the lime green Frigidaire. That coffee’s strong and black, but not allowed to vote. So, enjoy, and that’ll be 15 cents.

It’s 1975 and coffee is a service

Dad was in Nam. – you know the one that Nixon and Oliver Stone screwed up. He’s sitting alone in a torn naughehide booth at the corner of his VFW’s International House of Edward Hopper and PTSD.  And, some crusty tart named Flo pours him a cup of joe before she brings him his eggs and hashbrowns. And he’s having flashbacks about killing a Deer with a knife made from a coconut and Bobby De Niro. That coffee’s right there behind the counter sitting on a Bunsen burner keeping it warm 24/7 under a neon sign that says “velvetta and gravy”. And, that’s good coffee. Want me to top that off? Thanks Hun, That’ll be 50 cents.

It’s 2003 and coffee is an experience.

Seriously Dude, my Dad was totally in Nam. You know Vietnam, like in that movie with Ben Stiller. I don’t know man, maybe I won’t go back to school next year. Maybe I’ll just take some time off and travel. You know see the world. Jump on my single speed and just take some photos. Maybe I’ll upload them to Facebook and blog about them instead of hanging out in this cyber café all day. Can I get a double soy milk mocha latte with a twist and an itunes giftcard? I’ll wait over there by the faux French 1920s world’s fair posters and listen to Lady Gaga’s cover of Madonna’s cover of Bruce Springstein’s cover of Bob Dylan’s cover of Lightning Hopkin’s cover of that African American farmer down the road picking coffee beans out of his teeth. And, can I get extra foam on this please. Here ya go man – the unbleached free-range cane sugar and recycled stir sticks are over there, nice piercing by the way, and that’ll be $3.95. Next.

it’s 2010 and coffee is…

… kind of getting in the way of the cup I need to use to hold the change I’m collecting from the passing hobos.

And that coffee’s bitter.

Stay thirsty,


photo of French flappers in a cafe from Vintage Lulu’s photostream on Flickr – used under CC license