- Food and Cooking
Black Death (The Coffee Article)
By Wes J. Pimentel
I’d like to take this opportunity to discuss something that is very near and dear to my heart. Coffee. Although I’ve had a rocky relationship with old “Joe” in the past, all in all I’m head over heels in love with the stuff. Now, my mother is from Colombia, which means I probably have a few dozen ancestors who could be mistaken for Juan Valdez, but I don’t think that has anything to do with it. I’m pretty sure my infatuation with this black magic woman stems from its effects on my favorite activities. I’m going to start by describing the best coffee I’ve ever come across, then I’ll go on to address exactly how it influences my pastimes.
As I write this, I’m sitting in a military dining facility. I am a soldier. As a deployed soldier, I cannot choose the source of my morning brew. It doesn’t matter, though, because in all my twenty-nine years I have never come across a substance that can surpass what is dispensed from the dining facility of this fine institution. What I drink with my breakfast every morning is so unique, in fact, it can hardly be considered “coffee”.
First of all, the color. The word “black” falls desperately short of describing the darkness of this liquid. The blackness of this mysterious brew goes far beyond the cosmic filler we find between celestial bodies in space. I don’t know how they do it, but our benevolent cooks have seemingly managed to liquefy antimatter and now serve it out of a large metal machine. You can actually feel its gravitational pull as you hold the spout open. Toward the end of each batch it will actually suck in the ambient light. The blackness is so intensely stubborn it’s practically immune to creamers or milk or any dairy product for that matter. It’s so resistant to milk I’m starting to wonder if it has developed a sort of digestive system of its own. The unrivalled darkness of this liquid has actual depth. I’m talkin’ intergalactic depth. I’m saying I don’t touch it with my bare hands because I fear being sucked into my cup and spat out on the other side of the universe.
Now, the “flavor”. Wow. I take mine with a little milk and two honey packets. I tell myself the honey helps cut the bitterness, but as an amateur behavioral scientist, I’m well aware it’s all placebo. I just like to watch the honey ooze into the cup and I’m fascinated by how its chemical composition changes immediately upon coming in contact with our disturbingly unique brew, ridding it of all traces of sweetness. I know what you’re thinking. “If you want sweeter coffee, why don’t you just add more sweeteners? Duh!” It makes total sense, I agree. But you’ve obviously never encountered the substance I’m writing about. See, it doesn’t matter if you take a whole fuckin’ bee hive and jam it into your cup. Absolutely nothing on this planet can overwhelm what this product does to the human taste-bud. I actually became violent this morning as I fought my body’s attempts to regurgitate the shit. I LOVE IT! At this point I could try to describe the flavor by comparing it to things like asphalt and charcoal briquettes, but there’s no real comparison. I like to consider myself a pretty good writer, but this shit’s got me beat. The “flavor” is literally indescribable. There is nothing I can put on this paper that will do it justice. All I know is every breakfast I have here is an emotional event. Every sip I take flashes me back to early childhood traumas and brings me dangerously close to a psychotic break. God bless it.
Alright, we all know caffeine is a stimulant. Coffee has caffeine in it, but like I’ve already mentioned a couple times, what we’re dealing with here is no typical “cup-o-joe”. I don’t know what this stuff has in it, but calling it caffeine would be like a three-year-old pointing at a charging bull elephant and saying, “Puppy!” This is no puppy. I’m not sure how it’s legal to dispense this to United States service-members. All I know is its effects on the human cardiovascular and nervous systems are practically lethal. I actually saw the grim reaper this morning. He was having a cup. Anyway, I’m sure if you analyzed it in a lab, it would show the exact chemical properties as a pile of crystal methamphetamine smoking a crack pipe. From the first couple sips you can’t help but be aware of its hold on you. I often find myself wondering whether I’m turning green and swelling out of my clothes. Your pupils dilate so quickly and with such force, there’s an audible snap as they pop open. People who’ve never lifted a dumb-bell in their lives are instantly endowed with Mr. Olympia-style veins in their necks and temples. You can actually feel the earth slowing down around you.
Like I said before, it’s not the ”flavor” or the color or the probably-noxious fumes we call the smell that get me. It’s the super-human powers it gives me while I engage in my favorite activities. I like to draw, write and play chess. Its effects on drawing and writing should be pretty obvious. I do lots of each. I do it quickly, with an unreal focus and determination. It’s the reason I’ve written this much about coffee in the first place.
Chess. If any of you play chess, I would recommend that you shoot a syringe full of crystal-meth directly into your jugular vein right before your next game, if you would like to experience a fraction of what it’s like to play hopped up on our sludge. First of all, challenging me after the black beast is in me is absolutely futile. There is no losing. Once these unknown chemicals have made it to my brain, it’s over. You might as well pack up your puny mortal ego and go home. From the moment my unsuspecting challenger sits in front of me, I know every move he’s going to make. I know what his kids are going to look like. I know the exact impact his body is making on the barometric pressure of the room we’re sitting in. My brain starts processing so much information so quickly, you can actually hear the hum. My synapses start firing at quantum speeds, forcing my “self” to expand far out past the confines of my body, allowing me to completely envelop whatever poor bastard is sitting in front of me. The chessboard becomes an insignificant slice of my consciousness, taking up about as much of my awareness as the red stitching on a baseball does, right before a major leaguer slams it out of the park. I become so in-tune with my opponent, I could tell you more about him than he could ever know about himself. I know his pulse, his breathing rate, what he had for breakfast and how the salinity of his bacon is affecting his rook moves, the surface temperature of his flesh, and the fact that the pollution he’s breathing today will kill him in exactly forty-eight years, after it has had a chance to develop into a devastating cancerous tumor in his gall-bladder.
THAT is why I love this coffee. If you’d like some, all you have to do is join the US Army and get deployed to an environment hostile enough to force the military to hire-out food services to foreign nationals, giving them complete autonomy over ingredients and preparation. Just trust me, it’s well worth it.