Four hundred billion cups of coffee are consumed every year. That’s more cups of black brew than alcohol.

I am not much of a coffee drinker myself, but everyone around me does. At home the pot is brewing every morning and some nights too. At work, there are pots in most departments, and still, my department will take up orders an hour into work and one guy will go out and fetch our order from the closest coffeehouse. I don’t drink coffee, but I don’t want to be left out and order a Chai Latte. That is one thing I like drinking. Tea.

But the bitter black stuff? I never have gotten into it. I used to think it was something I had to grow into, like acquiring the taste for beer. I used to think it was only adults who drank coffee. Sad to say, I’m the outsider now. Most of my friends and younger acquaintances are heavy coffee drinkers. They love going to Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts and ordering a coffee. If we have a lazy Saturday with no big plans, they always suggest going down to the nearest coffeehouse, ordering a cup and sitting in the large plush chairs and starting a conversation. Ahem…that’s not really my cup of tea.

Not even all the different flavors entice me. I used to remember going down to the ice cream stand and trying to choose from the twenty or so flavors that they offered. Then in Japan, it was a lot of fun to go to 31 Flavors, the ice cream chain that boasted as many flavors as you could imagine. And if you ever travel up to Maine, there are a couple Ben and Jerry’s that offer up to a hundred flavors. But coffee? It used to be just black or sweetened. Now, it’s all about a little mocha, hazelnut, latte, slim, cappuccino, iced, decaffeinated, java, vanilla bean, and steamed milk. Our department’s coffee order in the morning looks like a grocery list! But that’s the way people like it these days. Only 37% of American coffee drinkers drink it black. The rest add sugar, or milk, or spruce it up with some kind of flavor. And yet, I like that — flavor is the spruce of life.

Coffee is the only baptized drink in the world. If all these people gushing about coffee weren’t enough to sway me to coffee, Pope Clement VIII blessing it and baptizing it in the 1600’s might. Or the fact that there is the same amount of antioxidants in one cup of coffee as there is in three cups of orange juice. Wow!

That’s not all. The Japanese have found a new way to enjoy the benefits of coffee and it isn’t by ingesting it. They will bathe in coffee grounds fermented with pineapple pulp all in the name of reducing wrinkles and improving their skin. I love the smell of coffee and pineapple has that fresh, tangy scent, and the mix of those two sounds invigorating. Stepping in a tub full of it? Hhmm..I wonder if I can market that idea?

All that from a good cup of Joe. That name, Joe, came from our armed forces, where rations of coffee were given to our soldiers as far back as the Civil War. Many of them treasured it as much as their food rations. Even the cowboys in the Wild West loved a good cup of Joe. They used to put coffee in clean socks and place the sock in a pot of boiling water. Try that taste on for size!

I might have to relent and get into this coffee thing. I won’t go overboard. Maybe a cup or two a month — so I feel like I am getting the benefits. At least I found a few recipes to help me get over the hump. Dropping a mini chocolate bar into my hot cup of Joe. Or slices of ginger, cinnamon, or even honey and butter. How about slices of apple, pineapple, or strawberries? Already I can hear the purists turning over. But there are some out there who are nodding with me. We just want a cup of Joe we can drink.

© Seth Crossman