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The path to coffee snobbery

Published September 24. 2011 09:01AM

I'm simple and non-complicated, and I'll never be a coffee snob.

I prefer a cup of joe the old-fashioned way. But it's becoming more difficult to be a java fundamentalist.

When I order a cup of regular or decaf, I feel like an outcast; a hopeless pagan immersed in a world of gourmet coffee worship.

My old-time, traditional coffee is becoming obsolete. It's being replaced by exotic concoctions that have highfalutin' names.

The waitress asked if I wanted latte, cappuccino or espresso. Or did I want iced coffee mocha with caramel and cinnamon? Or macchiato? Or maybe freeze-dried decaf with a hint of orange cream liqueur and Truvia? Or was it latte with a touch of bacon-flavored baths salts? I can't quite remember.

"No thanks," I said. "I have to drive."

I'm trying to avoid my first DUIC driving under the influence of cappuccino. It's a serious crime. I think they send violators to a prison in Italy. Nowadays, a cup of coffee sounds illegal. My head is spinning from hearing the options. Is it only me, or is coffee becoming dangerous?

The waitress said she could serve my brew in a hazelnut-flavored variety unless I'd rather have vanilla-flavored.

"Oh my," I said. "I really only want coffee-flavored coffee. Do they still make it?"

To be honest, even that simple request wasn't quite accurate.

What I want is a cup of coffee the way I remember it when I was young.

Just give me the good old A&P brand ground fresh at the cash register.

Remember those days? The cashier would say "How would you like your coffee ground?"

We'd answer "perc" or maybe "drip."

The clerk would pour the bag of beans into the top of a tall, red grinder that looked like R2D2. Suddenly, the deep, rich fragrance of ground coffee would fill the store. Freshly ground coffee beans smell good enough to eat.

Coffee is special that way and coffee traditions are handed down to us through generations.

The A&P brand was a tradition my mother shared with me. She began each day with a savory cup of A&P coffee and cream, or half-and-half. But then things started to change.

A&P went out of business. At some point, snobbier brands arrived, supposedly chockful of beans. It drove me nuts.

Then came espresso, and mocha. Finally, the world went cappuccino crazy. Sadly, plain old coffee is disappearing. Why do we need to gourmet everything?

Today, I'm not sure I know what coffee really is. They don't even call it coffee anymore. They refer to it by those hotty-toddy names I don't recognize, and they sell it at fancy espresso bars. I'm not into the bar scene. I live a quiet life. I sit at home and stare at my percolator. There, I reflect on the olden days when a fresh cup of coffee was a morning pick-me-up not a social statement, not a sign of aristocracy, and not a beverage that required learning a foreign language.

Sometimes I feel as though the globe is spinning too fast. Maybe we need to reverse it and go back to the days when a cup of coffee was nothing more than a cup of coffee.

I don't give a hill of beans for iced cappuccino with caramel topping.

Just give me a cup of Eight O'Clock and maybe a sticky bun. I sure hope sticky buns never go gourmet. I worry that someone will turn them into a sticky bunaccino. What a crime that would be! We need to tell the world to leave sticky buns alone. The time has come for us to watch our buns. If it ain't broke, don't gourmet it.

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