The Blog

People Who Drink Coffee Are Weak (Or: The Sociology of a Cup of Joe)

I often say, "Let's meet for coffee." But I never really meet anyone for "coffee." I don't drink coffee. It's more of a figurative statement. It's like when you say, "Sure, I'd love to hear your band play sometime." You don't literally mean it.
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I often say, "Let's meet for coffee." But I never really meet anyone for "coffee." I don't drink coffee. It's more of a figurative statement. It's like when you say, "Sure, I'd love to hear your band play sometime." You don't literally mean it. And, in fact, you would rather hurl yourself through a plate glass window on the 9th floor than drive out to some seedy bar and watch their crappy band play Eagles covers.

"Let's meet for coffee" means "let's get together at a café for conversation." But we say "coffee" because that's normal. Coffee is normal. Sometimes I feel ostracized for not drinking coffee. I'm surrounded by friends who are unable to function on a civilized level without finishing up their meal with a scalding hot bean stimulant made up of the same basic properties as crack cocaine... and yet I'm the weird one in the group.

Sometimes I meet my friends at Starbucks. They get coffee. I get a Snapple. At least Snapple has some nutritional value. Snapple's catchphrase is "made from the best stuff on earth." Eh, I'm not sure if high fructose corn syrup and sodium hexametaphosphate is the best stuff on earth, but the vitamin C is nice. I would say that Slim Jims are made from the worst stuff on earth... but I don't think some of the Slim Jim ingredients are from earth, at least not the meat.

I like Snapple because it's cold. And that's my biggest problem with coffee; it's so freakin' hot! Drinking coffee hurts. Remember the old lady who sued McDonald's because she spilled hot coffee on her leg? Well, it's a lot worse when you spill a fiery hot beverage in your mouth. I don't get it. Nobody else seems to have this problem. Is everyone using some sort of special tongue condom when they drink coffee? Am I the only one unable to bear the excessive hotness that is coffee? Drinking coffee is like putting my mouth on a Bunsen burner; it's not "refreshing."

Apparently, I was just born with an especially sensitive tongue. (Coincidentally, that's the first line on my porn movie resume.)

Yes, I know they sell iced coffee. But coffee is designed to be served hot. Cold coffee sucks because coffee is not supposed to be cold. Some people don't like saunas because they don't like sitting in such high temperatures. But that doesn't mean those people would enjoy sitting in a cold sauna. (Coincidentally, "Cold Sauna" is the name of my friend's band... that I've been meaning to go see.)

The thing with coffee is that I like everything about it except for the actual drinking of the coffee. I love coffee's aroma. A cup of joe -- the color, the cream -- certainly looks inviting. And I enjoy mocha-flavored foods, like ice cream and yogurt and cereal and goat testicles. But, even when it's not flaming hot, I'm just not into the taste of coffee. Not only that, coffee just doesn't "do" anything for me. It doesn't wake me up. It doesn't relax me. Unlike so many people, I get no chemical/emotional effect out of the coffee-drinking experience. Maybe I'm just drinking it wrong?

Today, coffee drinkers have so many options. At Starbucks, customers read their newspapers while sipping their Caramel Macchiatos and their Whipped Cream Cappuccinos and their Caffe Americanos. It sort of sounds like an organized crime meeting of the five families. Nevertheless, if you're going to drink coffee, then drink coffee -- real coffee. All these other cute "coffee" novelty drinks deserve to be on the Starbucks children's menu. And you're too old to order from the children's menu... unless the regular menu doesn't include the grilled cheese sandwich, in which case you're perfectly justified in ordering from the children's menu, and also complaining to the restaurant manager about why they don't have a grilled cheese sandwich -- the most wonderful food in the world, made from the best tasting stuff on earth -- on the regular adult menu.

Incidentally, I notice a lot of children do drink coffee now. I don't think kids should be drinking coffee, though. Some things are meant for adults -- like renting cars or going to Chuck E. Cheese with your friends drunk. But I suppose there are worse things kids could be doing, like shooting up meth or going to school.

One theory is that people drink coffee as an excuse to hang out at Starbucks. There aren't a lot of other places where you can just hang out without doing anything. Maybe Congress.

Starbucks makes billions of dollars in annual revenue. That's a lot of money, especially since nobody at Starbucks buys anything. Oh, okay, maybe you'll get a latte and a slice of lemon cake. But when you're sitting in the corner table all afternoon working on your screenplay, taking up space, that 8 dollar mini-meal can't do much for the company profit margin.

(side note: The most amazing corporate business story is Spencer's Gifts. You know -- that store in the mall that sells offensive T-shirts and books about farting and penis-shaped lollipops. Spencer's Gifts has been around since the 1960s. I have been to numerous Spencer's Gifts, and I have literally -- and I'm using the word 'literally' properly here -- never seen anyone buy anything there. I've been to Spencer's many times. I've never bought anything there. The closest I've ever seen to someone buying something at Spencer's happened just a few weeks ago, actually. An elderly man was in the 'sex toys' section, and he was carefully studying the dildos. True story. He might've bought one. I don't know. I didn't stick around to find out. Some things you can't "unsee"... like when I watched the Adam Sandler movie Jack and Jill on DVD.)

Of course, the people at Starbucks working on their laptops aren't really there to write their screenplay or their dissertation or my blog. They're there with the hope that an attractive stranger will strike up a conversation, curious about what they're typing. But in the history of Starbucks, nobody has ever met an attractive stranger through the "sitting around typing on their laptop" method. It doesn't work. Nobody cares what you're working on. You're better off at a bar.

Starbucks is not just a coffeehouse chain. It's a pharmaceutical company. Caffeine is a drug. It distorts your chemical balance. Of course coffee helps get you through the day. So does inhaling a gram of molly. I'm not judging. But there's something disconcerting when people refer to their "coffee addictions" in a fun, light-hearted way. "Oh, I'm absolutely addicted to coffee! Isn't that funny?" Umm... no?

In my hometown, there are literally thousands of Starbucks coffeehouses. (I might not be using the word 'literally' properly here.) That's a lot of people drinking coffee. Coffee is supposed to perk you up. And yet everyone is so sluggish.