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Magnificent Beans...in which Uncle Duke absorbs the Cosmic


I was thinking about coffee this morning. Well of course I was thinking about coffee. It was morning and I was awake. What else would I be thinking about? Coffee is not the only reason I get up, but it is in the top two. And I forget the other.

I scoop out the beans from an ancestral jug that has been holding Haydon coffee for multiple generations. I see that there are sufficient beans, enough for multiple cups, and I feel like a rich man. Then I grind those little magic, oily pods and sniff that intoxicating coffee bean aroma with not a little euphoria. I watch with anticipation as the water percolates through and creates a dark, full bodied, liquid mix. Before it’s even done, I jump the line and pour my cup, add a little sugar, and gently sip that hot, steaming brew.

Two full cups, first thing. After which I am able to say, with some optimism: “Hello, Daytime! How ya doin’? Let’s do it again, eh.”

Coffee is the least of my remaining addictions and a genuine pleasure to wake up to. My brain delights in coffee. It is like taking the dog out for a run. My brain figuratively wags its tail, barks and leaps around in anticipation. “Ready for some coffee, boy?” I say. “Yeah? Yeah? Bring me your cup then. Here you go. Good boy.”

It is morning ambrosia. Nectar of the mountains. A gift from the Gods. Slightly bitter, I recall what I disliked about my very first cup. “Yuchh! How can anybody drink that?” said I, naively.

I must admit that it is an acquired taste. But some cream and sugar soften the harshness of it for the uninitiated. And as time goes by, we realize that that slight bitterness is part of its allure. No one wants Kool-Aid at that time of the morning. You want something to balance out the donuts, offset the sweet rolls or the muffins. But even without breakfast treats, coffee is rich and earthy and stimulating on its own. It is what the body and the mind crave.

It lays on my tongue like an old friend. I swish it around in my mouth and reintroduce it to all those taste buds who are themselves waking up. I allow it to soak in and saturate their little receptor cells then swallow it down into my dependable gastro-intestinal system. It is a stimulant of the first order and, need I say, a recognized and certified boon to bowels and regulatory systems the world over.

My entrails know this drill well and quickly absorb the caffein and distribute it into my bloodstream. From there it is a short trip to the blood-brain barrier where it passes into my cerebral cortex which has been more-or-less patiently waiting since I woke up.

There is a trigger there which releases a tiny drip of dopamine, that delightful little neurotransmitter that acts as the brain’s reward center. It is a central nervous system stimulant and allows us to feel more awake and less tired. With each sip, the world begins to change. Alertness returns, and we can now focus and feel motivated. Things seem more interesting.

This morning for instance, it locked my brain onto coffee’s own composition. I realized all at once that I was drinking sediment/particulates/particles from coffee beans which were no doubt grown on a South American mountain. From there, they were individually hand-picked, processed, dried, transported, stored, roasted and packaged. I was left with only the grinding, the brewing and the drinking. I took another sip.

So, what I was drinking there was South America. The soil and the rain there combined to create these little beans which somehow made it all the way this far North, into my cup, onto my tongue and thence into my brain. Which was of course now thinking about coffee. It had made a grand loop. But it wasn’t done yet.

From there, my invigorated brain went on to ask the question of where that South American mountain soil actually came from. And the astounding answer of course is that it came from the ash from volcanoes. So what I was actually drinking was tiny particles of molten rock and lava ejected from the inside of the mantle of the Earth. From the freaking Core of the Earth. No wonder I was feeling enlightened!

“And where did that rock and lava and magma come from?” asked my perked brain. “Why from the Stars, you dolt! You are drinking little bits and pieces of the Stars. Stardust, in fact, contributed to the Earth billions of years ago to create this little bean so you could wake up and have this cup of coffee. So focus, you dullard. Pay Attention, you lunkhead. Appreciate every sip, ingrate. It’s a gift from the ancient Universe.”

Adulting is hard. There is much that deserves your attention. Coffee can help. Have a second cup. You’re welcome.



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