Have Another Cup

So you’re into this coffee thing big time, huh? Not only do you lap
latte with the best baristas, you’re a cybercafista, surfin’ the
Net at the newest cybercafes. Even if your burg lacks these coffee
bars cum coin-operated computers or (quell horror!) an espresso
bar, you still cruise for a vicarious buzz at places like
Over the
to keep up with the latest coffee arcana
(including a database of songs mentioning coffee!), or download the
latest biscotti recipe posted in alt.coffee.


‘It’s starting to become a pass? habit,’ sniffs beverage
consultant Tom Pirko in Forbes (May 22, 1995).
Some portents include: Espresso cart sitings are way down in
Seattle; Starbucks insiders are selling stock; health-conscious
consumers getting hip to the fact that the coffee bar’s prime
profit maker, the latte, gets you lots of calories, little buzz,
and no calcium (it’s absorbed by the coffee molecules). FORBES’
business tips for would be proprietors? Forget it, or add some
gimmick like Seattle’s Caracolito, where espresso comes con tapas.
Coffee snobbery, concludes another consultant, is ‘horse pucky, and
it’s not going to be around much longer.’

If the slipping hipness factor isn’t enough to keep you from
sipping, try on some of the ethical quandaries. If you now Starbuck
(that’s with a ‘b’), you may go there because the uberchain
regained some political correctness after they bowed to activists’
boycott pressure and upped payments to their coffee-picking
Guatemalan campesinos (now they get MORE than two cents a pound
picking what you’ll buy for $9). But despite Starbucks’ high
ranking as a socially responsible business (premier worker-benefits
package, big donor to global relief agency CARE), some say
Starbucks’ unrepentant aggression in dominating the market is,
well, uncool. Wonders Peter Carlin in
Business &
Society Review
(Spring 1995): ‘Does the pressure of
the marketplace inevitably erode your soul?’

Finally, let’s face facts — the stuff’s a drug. ‘Coffee and
caffeine probably should be sold with some responsible label
warnings,’ grouses HerbalGram (Summer 1995), in a
blast against feds who want to regulate ma huang, a natural
stimulant and sniffle-buster. Babbles one java junkie (he downs a
cup an hour) on alt.drugs.caffeine, ‘I got a lot
of work to do, and I want to know how to get along with less

Which reminds me…I have a lot of work to do myself. Think I’ll
go plug in the percolator.

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