December 2, 2020

The Junk Drawer: ‘Not Crazy About Coffee’

According to foodeditorials.com, about 1.4 billion cups of coffee are served per day around the world. Nearly 45 percent of that is consumed in the United States — but when it comes to this hot beverage, I’m not your average Joe (Get it? Coffee pun.).

When I’m at a restaurant, whether really early in the morning or late at night, more often than not, the people I’m with will order a cup of coffee, sometimes with cream, milk, sugar or half and half. My mom prefers to put an ice cube or two in hers to cool it down faster. However, I look at the piping hot liquid and wonder, “How can someone drink that?”

“The Junk Drawer” is a biweekly column written by Journal sports editor Tim Doty.

No, I’m not here to rant about the controversial methods in which coffee is harvested, complain about how “Starbucks is putting mom-and-pop shops out of business,” or question the health benefits or risks of coffee and caffeine. I look at the person and ask myself, “Literally, how can someone drink that?”

Obvious statement of the year: coffee is a hot liquid. I know some people like to drink coffee for the warmth, the taste or the caffeine, but I can’t fathom how a person can drink liquid at that temperature. Personally, I cringe at room-temperature soda. The only liquid I can drink that isn’t cold is water. I don’t even drink hot chocolate. My version of “hot chocolate” is pouring milk into hot chocolate mix, putting the concoction into the microwave for about 20 seconds and putting too much whipped cream on top. Crazy straw is optional, but preferred.

Some people complain when the weather is 90 degrees, but they are perfectly fine with pouring 140 degrees (average temperature at which people drink coffee from Journal of Food Science) of heat into their mouths. Perhaps my tongue is extra sensitive. Perhaps my oral pain threshold is lower than most. When I drink something that hot — tea, coffee, soup — I display shades of Brick Tamland and say, “Mm. I just burnt my tongue.”

But whatever the reason may be for my not liking hot liquids, most people can handle it. To me, though, coffee just has a strange taste. I’ve tried diner coffee, gourmet coffee, a lot of different kinds of hot coffee — it all tastes the same to me: bitter. It’s strange, because I can drink bitter beers, but bitter coffee is out of the question. I may also have been turned off to coffee because I one time unfortunately tried coffee gum. If you ever are offered “coffee gum,” for your sake, don’t eat it. Your mouth will thank you.

I know coffee can come in many varieties. Coffee shops can make frappes, cappuccinos, espresso, latte and more. There seems to be an entire culture based around this beverage, and I’m not trying to put down those who spend time in coffee shops. I’m sure I could find plenty in there — paintings, music, just a place to relax. But I wouldn’t be there for the coffee.

Though I don’t like coffee, I do drink all the extras people use in coffee. As unhealthy as it is, I can drink half and half right out of the container — which I only do if someone has it with their coffee, and I stupidly ask, “Are you going to drink your half and half?”

And even though I can’t get behind the taste of coffee, I love the smell. One of my favorite scents is fresh-roasted coffee. But when you’re enjoying your hot cup of java, I’ll take a cold soda, juice, milk or classic water.

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