Early Twenties (Experimentation)
The woman behind the counter raises an eyebrow and scowls as she hands you twelve ounces of syrupy lavender-mocha latte buried under whipped cream. You don’t have time to figure out why baristas are such judgmental jerks. You have a midterm paper to write. You take a sip and think, hey, coffee’s not that bad. Now grab some sugar packets when no one’s looking and cram them into your pockets.
Late Twenties (Regular Use)
“No sugar,” you declare. “I take it black.” Shoot a side-eyed glance at that kid over there with his blended-ice drink—amateur hour. Sorry they don’t serve Shirley Temples, geez. Give the barista a knowing nod as you step out into the street with your cup of shade-grown glory. You can definitely taste the shade. Anyone who knows anything about coffee knows that the shade is, like, really important.
Early Thirties (Risky Use)
Arise at 4 A.M. and take some whole beans out of an airtight but never refrigerated container. Roast each bean individually over a wood-burning fire. Now grind those beans by hand with a mortar and pestle. Finally, pull the glass pour-over from your cupboard and whisper your dreams into the funnel. On your way past the coffee shop next door, shoot a side-eyed glance at the barista—just look at those suckers! Then at the fancy imported-goods market, take out a crisp twenty-dollar bill and buy a pound of coffee. Receive no change.
Late Thirties (Dependence)
It’s 3 P.M. You’re so tired. You wish there were a faster way to consume coffee than drinking it—like, maybe bathing in it? You don’t care how you roast the beans right now. It could be a grease fire as long as it yields something caffeinated. It’s typing time, baby. Gotta crank out those reports! Wouldn’t it be great if you could fill one of those novelty beer hats with coffee? I mean, not bad coffee—shade-grown coffee—but, like, a gallon of it? Your pupils dilate at the thought. Should you cut back on your coffee consumption? Probably not. After all, you’re so tired.
Early Forties (Addiction)
At this point, the best part about going to bed is imagining the coffee you’re going to drink in the morning. You say it’s not an addiction—it’s just more important to your body than oxygen or your left kidney. How many pounds of coffee would entice you to sell a kidney? Two? No, grow a spine! Maybe four. As you lie there, you have an epiphany: coffee has more control over your emotions than you do. Say goodbye to any notion of independence and drift off into a blissful sleep, afloat on the dark waves of an endless sea of coffee.
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