Betsy gave me the bad news the minute I appeared in the kitchen door this morning.
If you want another cup of coffee, make one out of the espresso pot. In case you haven’t heard, coffee is ten dollars a pound.
The rumors have been floating around, but I’ve been pretty busy and not doing any shopping, so that I hadn’t expected anything as drastic as this. I poured the last cup in the pot for myself and returned to my daily CNN fix, but I was fixated on coffee, and the reports from London, from Afghanistan, from Gitmo, simply didn’t resonate. It doesn’t seem possible to exaggerate the influence (influences?) it has had on my life. When Aunt Fern let me dunk toast crusts in her coffee, I learned the joys of a good leisurely breakfast, and, although at an unspecified moment in childhood, I gave it up for hot chocolate, that memory lingered on, and when I met my errant father for the first time in eighteen years, I took up the habit for good because he taught me how to brew it by the drip method in the early days of the food revolution in the United States. That he had learned this during his regular attendance at AA meetings only added to its luster, as I learned that one good habit has the capacity to take the place of a bad one. From there it was coffee for me during all the times others are familiar with. Back at the university it took me through late papers, terrifying finals, bad dates and on to the colicky babies, learning to make pie dough, staying awake to read at night, and getting up in the morning, the smile of anticipation continuing on with the smile that announced the happy start of the day without regard to the negatives that were sure to follow.
Coffee, coffee, coffee a steady, a constant, best friend through all the vicissitudes of modern life. For years now we have been hearing of the plight of the coffee grower and coffee workers in South America or Africa. But doesn’t it all seem so far away? Of course I sympathize and even grow indignant sometimes over the plight of the workers picking the beans and weeding the trees, or however they care for them. They work too hard and they don’t get enough to eat. I do think they should make more money, but the growers say they can’t afford it. That is why, so they say, they plant their coffee trees or bushes in the sun. Picture, if you will, coffee trees growing in the shade of enormous mahogany trees, where they are supposed to grow. For one thing they probably are a delightful shade of green, and huge bunches of green coffee beans hang down low enough to be gathered in by workers happy to be cutting bunches from the low hanging branches of coffee trees growing in an endurable temperature. Where can we find such good trees?
To repeat: in the shade of tall tropical hardwood trees.
Never found in burned over ground used to graze cattle till the grass gave out.
Some growers actually are not the most honest people in the world.
But whoever they are growers are in the business, and they wish to make it off of us. So the prices rise. The land becomes less reliable. Prices go up, and at our house the coffee drinking goes on a holiday. The good part is that we sleep better. The bad part is some of us begin to drink soda during those so-called coffee breaks, with the upshot of it all being more diabetes and obesity. I just came back from a fine neighborhood occasion. We were saying good bye to Ben, one of the now grown boys across the street. We had about half an hour of speech giving and well wishing before the van came to pick Ben up and start him on his quest to be a submarine sailor.
There was no coffee to go with the excellent chocolate cake Leslie made for us. We had small cans of soda instead. Soda! You see what the world is coming to. Coffee is about to become a rich man’s drink, to be indulged in by millionaires whose incomes remain more or less free of taxes. The repercussions of all this haven’t been predicted just yet, but about the only thing the boys and girls in the Armed Forces is likely to get for saving freedom is a good night’s sleep.