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unsung heroes

my life is full of unsung heroes. take my lungs, for instance. they are constantly working, inhaling and exhaling, stretching, pulling life from my environment and exhausting what i cannot use. if it were not for these lungs causing the rise and fall of my chest every couple of seconds, i would not be where i am today. i mean, every second these puppies are partly responsible for my existence. and yet they receive little thanks. unsung heroes.

equally important as my lungs, there is yet another unsung hero i feel compelled to highlight today:


look at that word just sitting there in its own little space. isn't it beautiful? just reading the word makes me feel like i can smell its roasted goodness. ahhh.

the world drinks more than 500 billion cups of coffee a year( we import it into the US at incredible rates. it is a huge global moneymaker.

and yet, for all that, it isn't just fuel. it isn't just a chemical or a necessity. it is, at least to me, beautiful and mysterious and broad. it is a happy drink - i love drinking an iced coffee on a hot summer day, with the windows down and the music blaring. it is a mournful drink - ever notice what funeral homes offer to drink? it is a lonely drink - when i am alone with my journal, all i really want is a cup of coffee. it is a communal drink - there is a turkish proverb that says that a cup of coffee commits one to forty years of friendship.

its at home in a new york deli, next to a breakfast sandwich. its at home during an anxiety-laden wait at the hospital. its at home in the often-refilled mug of a student pulling an all-nighter. its at home at the gas station while you wait for an oil change and flip through a magazine that you would otherwise never look at (car and driver, anyone?). its at home in church social halls and fancy restaurants and construction workers' thermoses. its at home in france, in italy, in japan, in mexico, and in switzerland. it is east coast and west coast, hot and cold, rich and poor, black and light, strong and sweet. and it is my constant pre-lunch companion.

for me, personally, coffee is a friend, a listener, a source of strength and energy. coffee understands. she comforts. she sticks with me. she warms not just my tummy but also my soul. she goes with me on vacation, and even on mission trips. i've had her from a store and from my home and made over a fire. there is many a poem, many a journal entry, and, yes, even many a blog post that would not exist were it not for her beautiful brown companionship. and so, to coffee, unsung hero of my life, i say: thank you. for the memories. for the friends. for the caffeine. for the comfort. for the shakes. for the way you have convinced my brain that i cannot function without you. for how you have been there at all the major moments of my life. thank you. see you in the morning.



cathyq said…
I agree with everything except for the pronoun reference. Sorry, but coffee is definitely a masculine word; hence, references should always be "he" "his" etc. Tea on the other hand...
greg. said…
i don't know, mom. black coffee might be a man, but with that cream and sugar, she is a sweet sweet siren.
RedBank Billy said…
Dude, you have a way with words, who else would go on a diatribe??? about coffee!!! I think I got that last word spelled right. anyway, got your message from last thursday, brings back many fond memories.....
Julie said…
One of my favorite Jars of Clay songs is the silly song that they do about coffee, called "Good coffee, strong coffee." It's so much fun and it is nice to have an ode to my favorite hot bean beverage. You are right that we may take advantage of coffee at times, but I am always thanking God for coffee at 6:00am before school. :)
mary said…
another song: Smelling Coffee, I think by Chris Rice? i like that song

I can't live without coffee...but you know one of my favorite times to have coffee is at the unexpected times. Take evening, for example. A devout morning coffee drinker, it is always a special moment to heat up some more coffee to sip on as I unwind from a hectic day. mmmm....this mornings is already perked and anxiously waiting :)

When did everyone fall in love with coffee?

i fell head over heels back in 2001. more at of necessity than love of the drink, i took a travel mug with me for my commute to highschool that last year. and i started my favorite thing of drinking cold coffee when i got back into the car at the end of the school day. I've been happily hooked for 6 years now.
greg. said…
i love the jars song, too, julie. a musical ode to coffee is a great idea.

i don't know the chris rice song you are talking about, mary.

as far as when i fell in love with coffee, i'm not sure. i do remember my FIRST coffee experience, however. it was upstairs of the waynesburg theater, where the odd fellows met. it was also where we had a little church service when i was 9 or 10 years old. they had coffee there. i had some. well, actually, i had a substance that was approximately 50% coffee and 50% sugar. it was yummy. it was candy. and it was a good introduction.

as far as when i got hooked or fell in love, i just can't say. i know i drank vats of coffee in college. i would study at kings until the wee hours of the morning and just keep getting that little cup filled up again and again. i don't remember drinking much coffee in high school, so i think it was in college when i really fell hard.

how about this? -

"The powers of a man's mind are directly proportional to the quanity of coffee he drinks" - Sir James Mackintosh (1765-1832)
Anonymous said…
I like coffee...I like tea...I love the java jive and it loves and tea and the java and me...a cuppa cuppa cuppa cuppa cup...ahhhhhh

Oh, there anything you can't do?

One of my favorite sayings about coffee: Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love. (I think it's an arabic saying....I could be wrong.)

I remember seeing you with a cup of the fine Brazilian lava once evening at a "coffee shop" that your youth group did. You were singing along to "Piano Man" and swinging your coffee cup like it was a beer stein.

I, I'm pretty sure that I fell in love with coffee at Coffee Times on Regency Road in Lexington during high school. I spent a ton of time there in high school and college--they even included me on their website--you can see it at

Speaking of college, I had several friends who brought me many pounds of The Beans from whatever Latin American country they went to for mission trips...including several pounds of Jamaican Blue Mountain. Ah, I felt like a Rockefeller in my room in Trustees East back in those days...even though I was poor as dirt...'s 3 in the afternoon, and I believe I'm going to go brew a pot of Sulawesi (my personal favorite...)
greg. said…

you have officially made me laugh. i am remembering myself as a very awkward adolescent, singing piano man and pretending that my (almost certainly over-sweetened)cup of coffee was a beer stein. i barely knew what beer smelled like.

but i had a vivid imagination. i still do. and with that imagination, i am picturing me. and it just makes me laugh. so thanks for that picture. that is a great memory. enjoy the joe. i think i may have some tonight as well. in fact, i know i will. i'm swinging by the organic foods store on my way home. yum!

CoffeeNate said…
Great post Greg, we are kindred spirits!

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