‘Some random thoughts on The Think Drink’
So. I’m walking into my apartment lobby and run into a couple of neighbors. Well, I didn’t literally run into them, which is a good thing because I was clutching an extremely large container of coffee. A venti quad skim latte, to be exact. Which is four shots of espresso and some frothy skim milk. It’s really big, and really good, if you like that sort of thing. And I do.
Well, after making some remark about coming by later to ‘scrape me off the walls’, my neighbors waltzed off to buy Christmas cards or wrapping paper or evergreen fronds. Or something. While I came upstairs to write this piece. (And sip my coffee.)
I love coffee. If some doctor told me I couldn’t drink it, I would have some pretty serious issues. I think it’s delicious, and I also think it gets your brain firing on all cylinders. I’m not the only one. Years ago there was an ad campaign for coffee with the tagline ‘The Think Drink’. And, to this day, Young Attractive Persons use coffee as a study aid. (See photo at the top of this post as proof; Attractive Person pictured is the son of one of my friends, preparing for a final exam.)
I grew up with Attractive Persons who were always drinking coffee. ‘Would you like coffee?’, ‘Coffee’s in the kitchen’ or even a simple ‘Coffee’s on’ was how one was greeted at the door. In fact, while digging out pictures for this post, I realized that it was a rare family photo that did not feature a Henry or Peterson adult clutching a mug.
Speaking of mugs, my Dad was famous for leaving them everywhere. Everywhere he’d been drinking coffee, anyway. Which really did mean ‘everywhere’. After he’d been to your house, you’d find mugs for weeks: by the couch, under the bed, outside on a bench. I once found one, months after a visit, perched on an ‘arm’ of the furnace in the basement.
My family’s grownups didn’t just drink coffee at breakfast time, while goofing around with spoons, or after dinner, though. They drank coffee with meals. Right after I moved to New York, my parents came for a visit. I wanted to impress them so I took them to dinner at Windows on the World. Very fancy, that place. So my dad gives the waiter his order and finishes with ‘and coffee’. And when his first course came he asked where was his coffee? The baffled server got him a cup and saucer and he happily sipped away — through his salad, his entree, the whole rest of the meal.
And my Dad was a Henry. It was the Peterson side who had coffee all the time. That’s because they were Swedes. Did you know that Swedes have the highest per capita consumption of coffee in the world? (They also have the highest alcoholism and suicide rates, but that’s neither here nor there.) The thing is, though, their coffee — the Petersons’ coffee anyway — is, well, a tad on the insipid side. Maybe there are Swedish households where you can get a nice, rich cup of java, but at my Gramma’s you could see right through to the bottom of the cup.
I had this boyfriend once who offended my grandparents greatly by bringing his own coffee — and coffee maker — on Family Visits. I only found out much later, after we’d broken up, that this was one of the (many) reasons he was known to them as ‘Philippe the Creep’. (Gosh, what if he reads this? Oh well, it’s been thirty-odd years; coffee under the bridge, I’d say.)
But back to my morning coffee. In my NYC nabe there are four coffee places in one block — and that’s just on one side of the street. So I have a lot of choices. But I get my daily frothy fix from Starbucks. Now I know that some people, especially in the Pacific Northwest, frown upon Starbucks. The last time I was out visiting my Mom with The Dude and The Child, we were unable to locate one of the region’s clever drive-through espresso bars, and, desperate for caffeine, had, as they say, ‘grabbed a Starbucks’.
Anyway, we couldn’t find a drive-through, disguised as a coral reef or otherwise. So when we walked into the Bong Store, our favorite Astoria emporium that sells swords and scabbards and booze and porn and yes, bongs (we were there to score cigars for My Favorite Brother-in-Law Dave), the proprietor looked at our telltale cartons and said ‘friends don’t let friends drink Starbucks’. He did, somewhat reluctantly, sell us those cigars.
I just realized this piece is getting super long, and it’s only about coffee, for pete’s sakes. I’ll wrap things up soon, I promise. Before my coffee gets cold, in fact. Speaking of coffee getting cold, I can’t resist sharing this photo I found on Facebook. One of my best FB pals (thanks, Mike!) said I could use it.
So I guess that’s about it for this week. If you still hanker after coffee-flavored stories, don’t forget to check out ‘The Incest Mug’. Or you can read this one about coffee as ‘social glue’ (ick) in ‘Small towns, Big City’. I won’t even get into my stories on coffee-as-client when I worked in the Ad Biz. (Did you know that Teddy Roosevelt came up with the slogan ‘good to the last drop’ for Maxwell House?) But if you want, you can check out any of the stories under the Adland Lore tab. They go nicely with a cup of coffee.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, there is a beverage that my family might enjoy as much — or even more than — coffee. Three guesses what it is:
New York City. December 2016