Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Welcome to the machine

Appreciation vs. Snobbery

I think that, in the context of this blog, you must realize that I like coffee. Juan Valdez is like the father I never had (in that he is not only Columbian, a coffee farmer, and a drug lord of sorts, but he is also fictitious, while my real father is none of those things). But, to the point, I do like my coffee.

And, I'll admit that I prefer good coffee. The aroma of fresh-roasted beans in a coffee house draws me like the scent of Chanel #5 draws an Italian businessman away from hearth and home and into the arms of a busty young starlet with skin like the morning dew and hair like cornsilk. I am attracted to a well-steeped French Press like Hillary was drawn to improbably tall landscape features and for much the same reason, "Because it is there."

And, I make it no secret that I visit a goodly number of coffee shops through the course of my day to day life. And, because of that, I have been accused of being a "coffee snob" (just as I have been accused of being a "bike snob" simply because I have nice bikes).

But, I don't think of myself as a snob. I think of snobs as being people who pretentiously refuse to use any product "beneath" their lofty ideals, and I am quite capable of downing the better part of a potful of truck stop java from time to time. Quite honestly, as long as it is strong enough, I have never found a coffee that I can't drink, and enjoy.

Conversely, if you take the finest, most-expensive coffee beans to ever travel through a monkey's alimentary canal, grind them up and brew too few of them in too much water I will spit it in your face and rinse the insipid aftertaste out of my mouth with a nice strong cup of Maxwell House.

I once took a pound of pretty nice coffee in to the office where I worked, and made the "coffee club" pot with it, since we had run out of the normal Folgers the day before. I wasn't trying to make any kind of statement, or show off my "sophistication". (Seems like a lot of "quotation marks" in one sentence, now that I look at it). I simply knew that we were out of coffee and I didn't want to go through withdrawal because the secretary was too lazy to go to Sam's Club and get more.

One of the engineers made a great show of taking a couple of sips and then declaring, in a voice that could be heard throughout the office, "I can't taste any difference between this and the regular stuff!"

Despite his rudeness, I was polite to him, and just explained that I had only brought in the coffee because we were out. This only prompted him to go into a long-winded explanation of why my coffee was no better than the Folgers that we usually drank. It finally sunk in that, regardless of whether he could taste a difference or not, he couldn't appreciate the quality of the coffee. I had to be a "snob", because I enjoyed something that he didn't.

Reverse snobbery, ladies and germs, is as bad as the regular kind.

But, here's the deal: I will drink any coffee which is properly brewed. I will ride any bike which is properly set up and fits reasonably well. I can eat some pretty appalling food, if it's spiced correctly.

I just prefer the good stuff, I don't insist on it.

I am, however, a barbeque snob. But, I'm Southern, it's in my blood.