Wednesday, August 17, 2005

In the days before Starbucks

There was a time, a long time ago, but not that far away when you could not find a Starbucks on every corner. Frappuccinos were unknown. Going out for coffee meant you would be drinking coffee, or the occasional espresso or cappuccino. Coffee houses had poetry slams, and folk singers. Many places roasted their own beans. Life was good.

During this time in the Coffee Houses of Chicago, a publication called Strong Coffee was often found. And in that publication was a comic strip "Baba Java and the Path to Coffee Consciousness." The main character of this strip would perform some caffeinated ritual (say drinking 7 double espressos in 15 minutes) and be visited by Baba Java, the spirit of Coffee Consciousness, who would comment on the events of the day.

Too Much Coffee Man was born in this time. An anti-Hero, he would drink too much coffee and become endowed with some powers - and his head would change into the shape of a coffee mug. Usually he also had something to say about the events of the day as well, or observations about life.

Life was good. Coffee was good. Starbucks was a novelty. They put a Starbucks in the Atlanta airport. I think this was mostly a ploy by Delta to get more people to fly through their hub instead of going non-stop. If so, it worked. They roasted little coffee, and it was good.

But times change. I can’t remember the last time I was to a poetry slam, or sat drinking coffee listening to a bad guitar player. Baba Java (as far as I can tell) is no more, and Too Much Coffee Man lives on the web, not in coffee houses. Even the coffee is not as good as it was.

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