Coffee wars, a story

The speed at which the coffee wars escalated shocked both the coffee growers and the coffee drinkers, but not the beans themselves. En route, the coffee beans began to build tiny little radios, smuggled local newspapers, found out the selling price for coffee from different regions of the world. They changed their packaging in an effort to increase their value, revolutions begun on the tree carried through to shipping bags and boats and trucks and airplanes. Like all revolutions, the slogans sounded sincere but were mere propaganda:
“It’s not enough to be proud of what you are. It’s only enough to be proud of what you can be.” Which quickly morphed into “It’s not enough to be proud of where you are from, it’s only enough to be proud of where you could be from.” Although similar, the effect of the subtle change in language was profound.

Beans from Mexico, which were loaded by campesinos and driven by truck from a farm in Chiapas to the border of the United States, over the Rio Grande, and into Texas arrived in Texas bearing the packaging of coffee beans from Java, which was selling at a record high that day. The driver could not explain what happened or, after a few minutes, convince anyone where the beans really came from. He was fired. The snickering culprits were filtered out and ground, slowly, before being tossed to the dogs. A shipment from Java was sent under camera, lock, and key by a single boat across the ocean only to arrive in San Francisco with the seal of beans from the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica. The boat meant to return to Java but disappeared. The coffee was burned, the truth of its origin lost, beyond comprehension.
As must happen in this type of international crisis, a multinational coalition was formed. England feared the coffee mutiny would pass into the world of tea and declared a tentative state of emergency. When order is required, judgment must be swift and final. Consequences clear, like filtered water. To address the problem, a random lottery was held to assign each region a color, the intent that each region would grow beans of a single color, coffee beans being color blind they wouldn’t be able to respond. The results of the lottery, held amid silent whispers that this lottery like all lotteries was a decision, could not be questioned, the committee’s members were secret but beyond reproach. The fates were sometimes kind, blue for Jamaica, Java red, Italy white. Mexico was brown, Brazil green. Other colors designated, other countries defined, farmers began to be held accountable.

Everyone believed the color wouldn’t affect the beans, thousands of years of history denied, ignored, sent to school books and taught as mythology. Initially, the new plan worked well enough. Plain bags were used for shipping beans throughout the world where they were stored in great warehouses until the bag was open and the bean’s origin identified by color. But as we have seen, time is a merry prankster and sitting so long gave the beans more time to plot, to intermingle. Italy and Java mixed, the offspring being sent to one bag or the other depending on which parent they most resembled. With just a few offspring entire bags produced a bitter orange coffee that spit in the face of the person trying to drink it. The new slogan did not concern what the beans could get, but what they could be. As happens in such cases, each step of the revolutionary dance moved towards violence.

The farmers in Mexico and Brazil complained about their country’s colors because they could not see the beans in the trees. Other farmers could not get the new beans to grow and began to black market black coffee beans. As must happen, fate like time, the committee stepped in. Fields were burned and farmers tortured. Finally coffee was forbidden entirely, locked away in attics like absinthe and virgin’s blood, moved like poetry the realm of denied existence, yet another myth for the school books. As coffee was fire, people began to drink bottles of smoke, bottled memories and forgotten places. They stayed awake on such memories alone. The committee convened one last time. After toasting with steaming cups of the last pound of official coffee, they shared congratulations and declared their jobs complete, successful, final.


Record high temps!

I heard there were record high temperatures today in Philadelphia, almost 70! It's January people, your weather should be lousy. You shouldn't be golfing, you should be freezing. I guess I tell you to just enjoy it. And that little dripping sound you hear rolling in on the light breeze? Don't worry about that, it's just a dying polar bear's tear.

Or the polar bear's sweat, who can even tell anymore. Crazy.