Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

We’ve all been in line, behind one of them. You know, the guy with the complicated breakfast order at Dunkin’ Donuts?

He’s the dude who says, “I’ll have a large decaffeinated iced coffee, please. French Vanilla. Two sugars, extra extra cream. Oh, and don’t put the sugar in the coffee. I’ll take it on the side. And just put in half the ice. Oh, yeah, and I’d like that in an extra large cup. I’ll also take a Supreme Omelette. Can you pick the peppers out of that? No? Okay, then I’ll have a sausage and egg sandwich, but give me bacon instead. And I’ll have that on a croissant. No wait, make that a bagel. Do you have pumpernickel bagels? No? Then just give me a plain one. No, sesame seed. That’ll be good.”

Then, of course, he turns to his wife and three kids and asks “And what do you guys want?” Meanwhile, the line behind them is backing up out the door. The once bright smiles of twenty people are starting to cloud over, as this ding-a-ling fumbles for his wallet half an hour later, only to realize that he left it in the car. And his wife has no money with her. Suddenly, their kids don’t seem all that cute to the folks standing behind them…

Personally I couldn’t take that kind of disorganization so early in the morning. You really should be prepared when ordering your breakfast if a dozen coffee-deprived people are waiting in line behind you. Like many folks, my morning coffee is a daily ritual. And I need it fast, because the day can’t even begin without it. That’s why I usually swing by the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through window – and for good reason. Most DD’s warn you that if you have large orders, you need to go inside. And probably stand behind ding-a-ling. Preferably in a separate ding-a-ling line. Manned by the most patient of employees.

Then people like me can enjoy this pleasant ritual:

“Welcome to Dunkin Donuts!” says the bubbly unseen female voice at the drive through speaker. “May I interest you in a breakfast sandwich?” I’m not sure why, but I always look all around me when I first hear this, not sure if the voice is really speaking to me.

I respond with my usual “No thanks, just a medium hazelnut, please,” knowing how the ritual will play out.

She continues. “Will that be hot or iced coffee?”

We’re in the groove now. “Hot, please!” I respond, all fuzzy-like. Not that the temperature really matters a lot to me. I spend all morning sipping a cup of coffee, so it’s pretty much stone cold by the time I’m done. And that’s because I’m a sipper. I figure I get about 100 to 150 sips from a medium coffee, over the course of a morning. By contrast, some people are gulpers – and that’s certainly their right. But they probably get less than 50 gulps from a cup. And inevitably they burn their tongues or the roofs of their mouths. So I like being a sipper – it’s not such a safety hazard.

But I digress… The unknown Dunkin’ voice finishes up with “Thank you for your order! Please drive up.” And I do. Because I know the ritual. She hands me my cup, with a big smile. I take my first of today’s 100 sips and merge into traffic. Everything is now right with the world, even though I will inevitably spill a drop or two of coffee on my shirt or pants before the morning is done. And I’ll look like a slob. But I’ll still feel satiated.

Yes, indeed, good ol’ coffee! America’s morning addiction. Some like it hot, some like it cold. You can order it “high test” or decaffeinated. Have it with cream, half and half, whole milk, skim milk – even whipped cream. You can sweeten it with sugar, Equal, Sweet n’ Low, or Splenda – in your choice of colorful sugar substitute packets.

You can order regular coffee, Hazelnut, French Vanilla. Or be frilly, with a latte. Get coffee beans from Columbia, Honduras, Panama. Even Ethiopia or Kenya. Diehard coffee drinkers might try cappuccino, espresso, Turkish coffee, or something else strong enough to keep the spoon standing straight up in your cup without assistance. Some of these come with the coffee grounds still layered in the bottom of the cup. You can actually chew Greek coffee. But don’t.

Perhaps you like different flavors in your coffee? Not a problem. Spice it up with mocha, caramel, almond, coconut. There’s even a pumpkin flavor in the fall. Brew it at home or sip it at a coffee shop. Maybe you prefer to pick it up at the supermarket – by the liquid cup or the dry pound, of course. Get the whole beans or the ground coffee. There are as many varieties of coffee as there are Mexicans crossing our southern border every day. And they aren’t even bringing in their own coffee beans.

But seriously, what are the true benefits of coffee? As far as taste goes, I’m not quite sure. I can’t, for the life of me, understand how anyone could, right off the bat, LOVE the taste of coffee – unless you’re used to chewing betel nuts. It’s bitter, strong, usually downright acrid. I’d consider straight black coffee to be an acquired taste. Over a long period of time. So most of us sweeten it with enough stuff to substantially dampen the real taste of coffee. Thank God.

Perhaps coffee has a cleansing benefit? It’s certainly a great flushing agent for the digestive system. Sort of like flushing out the radiator in your car several times every day. Those who drink lots of coffee spend a lot more time in the bathroom than the rest of us. But I’ll bet they’re really clean on the inside.

So coffee’s primary benefit has gotta be the caffeine. Even for those decaf drinkers who only THINK they aren’t getting a buzz. Coffee is what jump starts the brain, gets us thinking. It clears the cobwebs from our minds. And allows us to put up with the idiosyncrasies of people like that ding-a-ling at Dunkin’ Donuts. Yep, coffee…the great equalizer.

Visit Londonderry Hometown Online News every Tuesday Morning for another one of Joe’s great columns! Select “Share this story” and share your favorite columnist with your friends!

Joe’s Two Cents – It’s Great To Be Alive is Joe Paradis’ first published book and gathers 40 of his most popular stories, enhancing them with humorous photography. The book is a compilation of forty of Joe’s best short stories.

Injecting humor into topics from everyday life, Joe answers those earth-shattering questions we all have about the beach, the bathroom, the junk drawer. From guys’ tools to girl talk. High school seniors to the senior years.

This classic collection has been updated to include pictures and a short introduction for each story. Until now, only God knew what possessed Joe to write about these things. Now you can too!

Joe Paradis is one of Londonderry’s most popular columnists and authors. Visit his web site at www.joes2cents.com today and order his latest autographed book, “It’s Great to Be Alive!”


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