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A Note for the Undercaffeinated Masses
A big-time coffee company - make that THE big-time coffee company, the one with the same name as a character in Moby Dick -- just put another outlet close to my neighborhood. That makes three within walking distance of my house, with three more close by if you don't mind hoofing it for another couple of minutes.
This raises a question:
Just how much coffee do we need, anyway?
I'm serious. Well, as serious as I ever get. Are we going to keep going until there's a You-Know-Whatbucks within walking distance of EVERYBODY'S house? Are they going to start popping up on cul-de-sacs in the suburbs and then at intersections out in the country? Is there some sort of social need (of which I am, as usual, unaware) being met by the presence of java joints every 300 yards?
And, more to the point, what's the big deal? You can gussy it up with all the foam and sprinkles you want, but underneath it all it's still just coffee.
I used to be a major coffee drinker. Major. My intake was measured by the pot, not the cup. I inherited this from my mother's side of the family, the McKenzies. The McKenzies are a northern Indiana farm family, and northern Indiana farm families drink a lot of coffee. As in gallons.
The coffee I grew up on was farm coffee, made in a percolator on the stove. You'd fill the pot with water, fill the basket with twice the recommended amount of ground coffee (preferably Eight O'Clock brand, purchased at the A&P), close it up, set it over a roaring flame and let it boil until it resembled asphalt sealer.
The sludge would then be poured -- if we may use that term for the slow transfer of what once was liquid but is becoming a solid -- into cups, where it would be adulterated with milk and sugar by most people I knew, and drunk black by the foolhardy, such as my mother.
It was, shall we say, bracing. My cousins and I have often talked about how edgy our parents were back during our kidhoods. Well, there's your answer: They were all stoked up on plastic explosives. Every single McKenzie cousin - there are 50 of us - remembers being yelled at by a parent for some minor kid-type mistake, and to a person, it's not the speeches we remember. It's the coffee breath.
(I'm pretty sure this is why my cousin Dena is so short. She got into a lot of trouble. I think it stunted her growth.)
Well, anyway, this was the coffee of my kidhood. And it probably had something to do with what happened the day I took a sip of coffee at a coffee shop, and thought, "You know, I think I'd rather have tea." I bought a box of Red Rose tea bags on the way home and I've been drinking it ever since.
Which gets back to my questions about the coffee shops. Did someone decide we were undercaffeinated? Must have. These things don't just happen by themselves, you know. Someone's obviously done research that says every available inch of real estate should be turned into a coffee shop, and that one brand (the Moby Dick one) should be the name every one thinks of when they think coffee.
But is it going to be this way forever? Is the day coming when we all live in walking distance of three to six of these joints?
Before you say yes, think of this:
There used to be A&P stores everywhere, too.
© 2008 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
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