Monday, December 17, 2007

The Worst Cup of Coffee, Ever

What Dementors Drink For Breakfast

© 2007 Leighann Lord

I just had the worst cup of coffee, ever. I know this claim is subjective. I’m sure you have your own personal remembrance of a cup of java gone wrong. Maybe it was the first time you had a cup of "regular coffee" at Starbucks.

I’ll agree with you on that. Starbucks’ regular coffee is purposely dreadful. It’s meant to subtly encourage you to buy on of the more expensive flavored lattes. Good plan. The caramel machiatto latte gets me every time.

Perhaps the worst cup of coffee you ever had came at the hands of a loved one. Coffee always tastes better when someone else makes it, right? Not exactly. My Mom hates the way my Dad makes her coffee. Understandable. They drink instant and that sucks no matter who makes it. But she won’t tell him, drinking it anyway so as not to hurt his feelings or stifle his romantic impulses. Ah, love.

Maybe your worst cup of coffee, ever, was the first cup. I know of very few people who take their maiden sip and shiver with joy. Usually it takes a lot of trial and error; figuring out the right brand, and combination of lighteners and sweeteners. Like sex, a good cup of coffee takes some experimentation to get it just right.

Whatever your Worst Cup of Coffee, Ever story, allow me to share mine.

I was enjoying a leisurely lunch at my favorite Greek restaurant. I know some people think the Greeks only run diners, but I was at an honest to God, Greek restaurant. I had a little time to kill so I ordered a cup of coffee.

I should have realized my mistake immediately from the blank look on the waiter’s face. He blinked a few times as if stunned. I don’t think he’d ever heard anyone order the coffee before. He hesitated for a moment perhaps giving me a chance to change my mind, or let him in on the joke; telling him Ashton Kutcher was in the kitchen and he was being punked. Just before the moment became too awkward the waiter recovered and scurried away.

Admittedly, I’m a bit of coffee snob. It’s not my fault. My first real cup for enjoyment – and not to stay awake on a long drive – was Jamaican Blue Mountain served one Christmas at my cousin’s house. Purchased domestically Blue Mountain is almost $50 per pound. Jamaica’s best known export may be Ganga and surly women, but the most profitable is the coffee.

Snobbery aside, I still try to keep an open mind. I had a surprisingly delicious cup of coffee, for instance, at a hotel bar in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They served a brand called Seattle’s Best; and, as it turns out, their best isn’t half bad.

Eventually the waiter returned with the coffee, milk, sugar and a plastic spoon. (I’d understand the latter later.) Glancing into the cup was my first inkling that all was not well. I may be a novice, but I don’t think coffee should have "legs" like wine or the viscosity of oil.

It didn’t move like any liquid I’ve ever seen, but more like an alien life form laying in wait to assume the shape of the first hapless human to touch it. Great minds think alike if you’re picturing the T-1000 (Robert Patrick) from "Terminator 2."

This wasn’t just an innocent cup of black coffee. This thing didn’t reflect light, but absorb it like a black hole. Forget Mr. Kutcher, I wondered seriously if the twin Stephens – King and Hawking – were collaborating on something in the kitchen that got away from them.

Gamely, I poured sugar and milk into the cup. The milk swirled feebly for a moment and then disappeared into the unchanged murky blackness. I poured off some of the "coffee" into my empty water glass; careful not to spill any, less I accidently set it free. Still no change, even after I stirred it; thankful now for the plastic spoon. If my "Terminator" theory was correct the substance in my cup would have assimilated a metal spoon. The last thing I wanted to do was arm my coffee with a weapon.

I plumbed the depths of my courage and took a taste. One sip and, while death was not immediate, I realized that in the time I do have left I owe Starbucks an apology. I was wrong to think they have the worst coffee in all of Christendom. Nay Friends, that distinction belongs to the bitter brew that brushed my lips at my former favorite Greek restaurant.

Like the black hole it appeared to be, it not only absorbed light and milk, but the memory of anything sweet and good I’ve ever imbibed. This was a cup of liquid evil. For my fellow Harry Potter fans, this is what Dementors drink for breakfast. I would have told the waiter how bad the coffee was, but I never saw him again. I hope he’s okay.

I still shudder at the memory, but modern psychology believes the best way to excise the demons is to share my story. I think the best remedy is a freshly brewed cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain, administered intravenously, stat.

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