Buying locally is good for the economy. It can also help you get a better night’s sleep.
Every morning, like many other Vermonters, I start my day with a cup of coffee. It is a necessary, enjoyable, necessary, delicious, and necessary part of my morning wake-up routine.
Once I have a cup of joe poured I make a big deal about imbibing in the caffeinated drink. I will slurp my first gulp loudly, and bellow out to the one other household resident awake, “Nectar of the gods!” My dog Yogi knows his role as man’s best friend and will wag his tail politely. Then when he thinks I’m not looking, he’ll roll his eyes and retreat to his spot on the sofa.
Over the years I have become a bit of a reverse snob with coffee. Most coffee drinkers begin to develop a taste for finer java, and progress to buying high-end coffee beans and fancy machines to brew their favorite beverage.
When I started out drinking coffee I would buy more expensive beans from a local roaster. Every morning I would take out my coffee grinder — a device which was just a few decibels quieter than an Airbus 380 Jumbo jet taking off — and ground my beans for brewing. It was labor intensive, but the coffee was delicious. When I moved to a new house in the big city of Northfield Falls, my proximity to neighbors and a local noise ordinance forced me to give up my beloved grinder, and I started buying coffee already ground. This change in habit started my descent into drinking inferior coffee. Soon after beginning the practice of purchasing grounds, I discovered that if you buy flavored creamer and put enough of it into your cup, you can buy the cheapest coffee around without an adverse taste issue. Soon I was buying any coffee I could find on sale.
I hit rock bottom last week when I was in the pharmacy to pick up a few things and saw a can of a generic product that merely said “Coffee” on it like some wayward prop from a theater company, and I decided to get it. I’m not sure if it was because this coffee cost less than a three-pack of toothbrushes or the fact that I was buying a can of grounds that was nestled on a shelf between hair scrunchies and hemorrhoid ointment, but something did not feel right about the purchase.
That night when I went to bed I had forgotten all about my internal conflict with the quality of my coffee. Then, in the early morning hours, I heard a loud knocking. I fumbled down the dark hall, opened the front door, and standing on my stoop was none other than Juan Valdez — the famous fictional character who has appeared in advertisements for the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia since 1958. Accompanying Mr. Valdez was his trusty burro, bearing bags of beans.
Juan pushed his way past me into the living room and started to berate me for desecrating my morning ritual of coffee consumption with poor quality coffee and corn syrup sweetener.
He shooed his pet away from my furniture, and said, “Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will.”
“Wait a minute, isn’t that a Yoda line from Star Wars?” I asked.
He gave me with a confused look. “Stupid is what stupid does.”
“And that’s from Forrest Gump.”
“We salute the courage of your sacrifice.”
“Just lay off the cheap coffee and disgusting creamer and buy the good stuff,” he said. “Life is too short not to enjoy a nice brew in the morning.”
And as quickly as he came, he turned and left. I went back to bed, and a short time later woke to the sound of my alarm going off. I staggered to the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee. After polluting my first cup of swill with a generous swig of corn syrup solids and hydrogenated oils, I turned to return the container to the fridge and crunched on something underfoot. It was a coffee bean.
But I hadn’t bought beans for several years. And then I remembered my dream. Or was it a dream? One thing was certain; I didn’t want to chance having any more livestock in the house. Later that day I poured the remainder of the creamer down the drain, purchased a quieter grinder, and got a bag of locally roasted coffee beans. And I have had sweet dreams ever since.
Mark S. Albury lives more quietly now in Northfield Falls.
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