Beatrice and Frank are people of routine. Each morning a faint buzz emanates from the back of the house. The buzz grows louder as it makes its way into the kitchen. Dishes clank; the laundry machine may fill up with water. Then the buzz retreats back up the hallway, into the back bedroom and Frank’s electric toothbrush turns off. Beatrice’s routines are less audible. After a perfunctory trip to the bathroom, she shuffles into the carpeted computer room—in the winter, a blanket may cover her shoulders—and she’ll check her email or Huffington Post until some other task (walking the dog, eating cereal, work) urges her out of the swivel chair and into long pants.
What’s depressing about this picture is not its humdrum, typically uninspired nature of morning wake-ups. It’s depressing because there’s no coffee.
I’m not one of those “coffee is the nectar of the gods” sorts of people. I don’t live for the “buzz.” In fact, I admonish black cups that yield overly-jittery mornings that linger past lunch. But a morning without coffee (or, I’ll be generous, without tea) becomes unmarked, lost in a haze of more and less important “to-dos” of the day. A morning coffee it isn’t nourishing in the way an omelet with red peppers is nourishing. In fact, if you look at the world only through the lens of life-sustaining foods, no five-calorie drink realistically makes the cut. Coffee drinking is an act that is more or less unnecessary. It wouldn’t kill you to delay coffee drinking for a few hours; if you put off peeing or taking some important pills, the results could be disastrous. In short, a cup of coffee is a comparatively superfluous delight. Drinking coffee signals: I want the house to smell good. It says: This is just for me. It always says: Shut up and don’t nag. And even in a travel cup it says: Baby, sip me slowly.