coffee sonata

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There’s nothing like a cup of freshly brewed hot black coffee in the morning to start a day. So much so that the Father of Music Johann Sebastian Bach even wrote “The Coffee Cantata” and announced: “Without a cup of hot coffee in the morning, I am like a roast goat.” It also reveals us the following historicity: (1) coffee had already established itself as a popular refreshing beverage in domestic as well as social firmament; and (2) the standard of taste as regards the principle of sentiment is universal in humankind beyond a divide of times and places. What a sense of connectivity to those living in the days of yore it is by the love of coffee!

The ubiquitous presence of Starbucks all over the world may be an cultural artifact of the 21st Century, signifying sleek urbaneness sometimes translated as being “uber cool,” belonging to our own time only. That is to say, anything out of different times is regarded as anachronistic, crude, or primitive if the divide of time gets bigger, whereas the counts of years on an evolutionary scale amounts to a microsecond on a twenty-four hour clock. Such example is illustrated in the diary of Samuel Pepys, an interesting English diarist who recorded the details of the 17th century everyday London life with wits and gusto that strikes the chords with the modern readers. Pepys commented on how he was being hooked on coffee until the inordinate consumption of the liquid caffeine made him feel sick. In fact, coffee shops are not the advent of our Internet Age. The first coffee shop in London was established in Oxford in 1652 with the proliferation of subsequent coffee houses where men of education and literary proclivities discussed business and social affairs. Beyond the British Isles into the grand continent of Europe across the Channel, coffee houses were burgeoning with artistic scenes in which musicians, writers, and painters commandeered their most favorite seats to proclaim them as their elbow rooms.

Pitchforked forward in time, I am back at my regular Starbucks store, sitting at my favorite table with pen to paper writing this essay. I look around and see people in modern attire but doing essentially same as their ancestors in a coffee house in days of yore: conversing, reading, and writing with coffee that seem to relax the constraints of everyday life in their respite. The whole scene brings me back to universal truth that something never changes, and that is what continues the humankind – through the love of coffee, as it were.

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