TITLE: Not Your Average Cup of Coffee
By James Brown
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Not Your Average Cup of Coffee
I recently entered my local Coffee Shop looking for an exotic cup of coffee. I don’t particularly care for those flavored concoctions; I simply want good strong coffee. I have grown tired of the regular flavors so my taste buds are screaming at me to find something new. I walk up to the counter and speak to the owner about my dilemma.
“I’ve got just the thing you are looking for, if you are brave enough,” she says with an air of mystery.
“What do you have?”
“It is a special brand, sold only to those rich enough to afford it. It is called SideHill Wampus Civet and sells for $100 a pot.”
I am astonished by the price, as you can imagine, but intrigued at the same time. She looks at me as if she knows I will balk at the price and turns to go back to what she was doing. That angers me, so I fairly shout, “I’ll take a pot and be quick about it.”
She turns to make sure I’m serious. Upon seeing the determination in my eyes, she hurries to the kitchen to brew her special elixir. She returns and sets up a special table for me, complete with linen tablecloth and fancy candles. I ask about cream and sugar but she responds that it would be sacrilege to contaminate her consummate potion with such poisons.
I wait for her to bring me her oblation, expectation mounting in me like Mount Saint Helens moments before she blew her top. After an eternity, (I’m not a patient man), the door flies open and she and her entourage approach my table. The first places a priceless saucer before me, followed by the next with a delicate teacup.
My first impression is that for the money I’m paying, I deserve more than a teacup. She senses my doubts and places a porcelain coffeepot in front of me, big enough to fill a super sized latte.
Time to savor the experience. I lift the top off the pot to allow the fragrant aroma to flood my senses. I smell good strong coffee mixed with something exotic I can’t quite place. I pour a small dribble into my cup, like a mighty wine connoisseur and swirl it around and around, checking the color and texture.
A small crowd has gathered, waiting for me to take a sip. In a flourish, I lift that ornamental sacrificial goblet to my lips and let the sweet incense flow over my expectant taste buds. The owner visibly relaxes as she sees the wave of pleasure that washes over my being. She dismisses her staff and fills my cup, producing one of her own so she can join me.
I’m a little perturbed at having to share my expensive brew but I settle down when she offers to tell me the secret of this amazing offering of the gods.
“Deep in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains lives a special mammal about the size of a house cat,” she begins as I sip my brew.
“This animal is called by the locals the SideHill Wampus Cat, for a very good reason. You see, the legs on one side are shorter than the legs on the other side. This allows it to stand upright while it is running around the mountain. The only problem is it can only run in one direction; otherwise it will tip over. There are two species of them, the Eastern Wampus and the Western Wampus. It is easy to tell them apart since the name is determined by the direction they run around the mountain.”
“The scientific name is the Civet, a distant relative of your common house cat. Over the years, this cat has developed a specialized diet that can only be found in one place, near the top of Mount Marci. In that region a unique coffee plant grows that is impervious to the harsh Adirondack winters. Each spring this plant sprouts its fragrant fruit: coffee beans.”
I finish my first cup and pour a second as she continues her story. She gives me a funny smile every time I take a sip, but I ignore the look as I am so caught up in the story.
“The fruit ripens in late spring, just about the time the Civets are waking up from their winter’s hibernation. They are as hungry as the Coliseum lions of old and their favorite snack is, you got it, coffee beans. They go to town and chow down on those beans, filling their little tummies with the ripe fruit. After they gorge themselves, they lie down to rest and let that delicacy digest through their systems to replenish the energy lost over the winter.”
By now, I’m on my third cup. She lowers her voice and looks around, making sure she isn’t overheard - I guess. I have to lean forward to hear her finish her tale of the origins of this truly perfect cup of coffee.
“Well, they lie there and nature does its work. Once the beans are digested, the varmints go to their special spot and – you know.”
“What?” I say. “What do they do?”
“They poop,” she says as her face turns beat red.
I look at my now empty third cup with a funny feeling forming in my stomach.
“When they are finished, they start running around the mountain and the natives sneak into the special spot and collect the – droppings – and take them back to their huts. The droppings are spread out to dry in the springtime heat and then run through a coffee grinder and packaged in airtight containers. Then they are shipped to select stores where only the enlightened are allowed to partake.”
I search her face for the hint of a smile that says she is kidding. I search in vain. She is serious. I have just spent $100 for a cup of liquid cat droppings. My face must have turned a slight shade of green because she says, “The men’s room is around the corner if you need it.”
I want desperately to flee to that blessed sanctuary and heave a bountiful oblation into the worthy urinal, but her look makes me mad. It upsets me that she believes she can send me barfing with her simple tale. I force the bile out of my throat and back to my stomach.
I take my wallet out of my pocket. She looks amused as I pull out a $100 bill and place it on the table to pay for my coffee. The amused look turns to one of sheer joy as I take out another one and say with a smile, “I’ll take a refill, if you please.”
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