The Chinese consider dog a delicacy. This fact is not unknown, anyone who's been to China discovers it, either through anecdote or by seeing it firsthand as the skinned Lassies hang in the market. What most people don't know is that there's a hierarchy of value for which color dog is most desirable. Dog with black fur is considered to offer supposedly the best flavor and the most benefit to the consumer (the black fur is believed to provide protection from the cold in the winter). Seems oddly superstitious, of course, this "you are what you eat" worldview.
Fresh coffee is both a scent and a flavor, I've decided. There are times after buying a bag of newly roasted espresso beans that I'll just inhale the aroma. Brewing it creates a different pleasure, and while it used to be that a good drip was just the thing. The other day, I found myself at a new level of coffee snobbery that bordered the superstitious.
Blaise, who doesn't drink coffee, was moving out and we were going through the closets, basement and kitchen to stock him up on the castoffs of items we thought he could use. Melinda came across several coffee cups of various sizes and colors. Red, blue, purple and one promotional collectible from our church, maroon printing on gray ceramic. I was so happy to relieve our cupboards of those cups and along the five hour drive to Monterey to deliver Blaise's final truckload of loot, I realized why.
The scent and flavor of coffee is exclusively found in earth tone shades of brown. It's possible that I believe this due to years of conditioning my brain as I drink. I can't enjoy coffee sipped out of a cup that is anything but some shade along the beige continuum. I think that if I were blindfolded and asked to drink the same coffee out of two cups, one red and one off-white, I would never fail to identify the better coffee as coming from the off-white cup. I've not been able to finish French roast from a promotional blue cup, or Hazelnut creme from purple ceramic.
We've been using glass mugs of late at our house. I must admit that neither ceramic nor beige pigment compare to the sight of swirling creme and java, or even better a dab of Baileys in those mugs.
How is it then that thousands of holiday mugs and trade-show cups are still made in these primary colors? Obviously the non coffee-drinking population of Marketing executives have pushed this tasteless merchandising on us.
But along that drive to Monterey, I also had to ask myself, why was it that I even made these judgements about coffee containers. Can books really be judged by their covers? Can a good wine be discovered because of the coolness of the label alone? Is black dog really better than yellow or spotted?
At the end of the day, or in my case, first thing in the morning when I'm most likely to drink my coffee, maybe it is superstition that informs this powerful conviction. And if there, why not as I meet people and develop relationships. My brain is conditioned to see the world and everything in it a certain way. Coffee is coffee, after all. The same pot won't pour sweet or sour from a single drip. My eyes inform my tongue. A good caution, I think, as I encounter those I will eventually come to love. Perhaps I should develop a taste for blue ceramic before refusing to drink at all. I might otherwise miss the heady scent that liquifies into hot steamy satisfaction.