July 13, 2009

Coffee: It's What's for Breakfast: A commentary on the average man's coffee.

At a favorite cafe, I might order just one thing: coffee. I might add a bagel or slice of toast, but it is usually just a simple cup of coffee. Let's pretend nothing here: The coffee is not the same quality as in a finer coffee shop. The ambiance is what a diner's is... filled with everyman, from all walks of life. You get what you pay for, but this is the life of the average coffee drinker. They are not interested in syrups, whip cream, Kona, brown vs white sugar, pull technique, or any other factor in coffee or a coffee drink.

That's what you see. The average man's $1.50 mug, basic sugar and flavored creams. America drinks this everywhere. The brown cup is hazelnut, the blue is vanilla, and the white is plain half-n-half. The white envelopes are plain sugar. The blue envelope is some kind of non-sugar sweetener. I took the picture a week or two ago.

The job gets done. A basic coffee and a basic set of flavor options. Much of life happens at the table pictured above. I have met with friends, clients, vendors, old, new and potential.

It may lack the romance of a misty cafe in Vienna, but Vienna misses the romance of an intimate table in America's heartland. No Austrian accents or talk of Beethoven, but conversations about city politics, traffic and baseball teams fill the air.

What I See
A waitress who thought skipping college was the best choice so she could make quick money wistfully looks at the men in suits, wondering if they will notice her in her new sundress beneath her diner apron. The men in suits argue about the cost of real estate, only glancing at the girl who, at 19 is half their age not realizing she knows this, but is OK with it.

A few men in from a construction site working on the interstate rush in for a late morning early lunch, and eat too fast to notice any of this.

A retired man in a rich blue shirt with a golf logo reads a newspaper where he sits every day, and the waitress calls him Tom.

A young buck brings in a Bible and discusses its finer points with a friend, see the young waitress and tip her more than their meal was worth. That $20 will help her more than they know. An older waitress sneers at her, because she has given up hope. This coffee shop is her bitter life, and she is afraid the younger one will leave before her. When she was 19, she got those tips too, but did nothing with them.

All on a Monday. Tuesday will be much the same. The coffee is good enough.

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