I Don’t Pay for Coffee

Financial advisors hate lattes.

Apparently we can stop all this absurd drinking of our foofy coffees, invest the money instead and at the end of our lives we’ll be gazillionaires with yachts.

Yay, yachts, sometime way off in a nebulous future in which I want a yacht.

Meanwhile, there is this, my standard order:

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“I would like a single short Americano in a yellow mug, please.”

The woman who owns the coffee shop usually reaches for the mug before I get to the front, so on the occasions that I want something else, it is disruptive. Yet she is kind, and forgives my whims.

She gives me a beautiful cup of coffee and I give her some money, and then I sit down and appreciate. I enjoy the mug, look at the reflections of the buildings in the cup. I have a conversation with one of my friends who just happens to be there. (It’s a small town. It is a rare event indeed for me to sit and drink my coffee in silence, although equally lovely.) If it happens to be warm, I sit in the sun and take a moment to bask, warm up, and feel the texture of the porcelain. Stir the perfect crema with the tiny spoon. Decide on sugar or no sugar. Sip. Sigh.

Yes, I can make coffee at home. I have a french press and an abundant supply of fair trade, organic, shade grown etc. etc. beans. I have the tea there every morning, and when I have no other reason to go to town, I do the economical thing (and don’t use fuel to get to the coffee shop either.)

But I’m not paying for coffee. I’m paying for there to be a coffee shop. I’m paying my portion of the rent on one of the “third spaces” at which creativity and conversations happen. I’m paying for somebody to know that a yellow mug matters, before I even know it might improve my life. I’m paying to step away from my desk and pay attention to something other than computers and code. I’m paying for accidental connections and vibrancy. And I’m paying for that moment of, “Sip… sigh”.

Something else is going to have to give if I’m going to have that yacht someday, because what I’m spending the money on at the moment is too valuable.

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