Let’s examine for a moment the typical conference attendee: bleary-eyed, having stayed up too late the night before catching up on the day’s accumulated email (which stacked up at an alarming rate when the conference’s wireless connection foundered under load); discomfited by foods foreign to his constitution, containing both carbohydrates in abundance, mostly fried, and perhaps one more glass of wine than was truly necessary; made grumpy by lines, queues and coveys of slow-walkers, chaffed by the lanyard that his credentials pendulum from, and bent from days of sitting in straight-backed chairs.
This is a person in want of a cup of coffee. And his expectations are simple: a cup of something that is hot, black, has caffeine and flavors and aromas that are agreeably coffee-like.
In the conference world, these expectations may be considered aspirational. Lofty, even.
Consider the cup before me. It’s black. I presume it is caffeinated. Those faint aromas it possesses recall boiled cork, dusty grapevine. In the cup it reveals flavors of chalk, cereal, wood char and kerosene. It’s over extracted, and yet has chewy qualities… it has been reheated. It was brewed in a far-off kitchen, splashed into water pitchers, trundled around on a service cart and poured into a commercial coffee urn that continuously rewarms it.
In short, this coffee is dead. It’s been reanimated in a fashion… it’s now zombie coffee. Given its audience, I guess that’s rather fitting… but no less a shame.
On a day when markets are tumbling, and politics are dividing and abasing, and London is *burning* for chrissake, this isn’t exactly a big deal. But our days are made of a hundred things that don’t matter… but add up just the same. And the sum of those petty outrages — from heavy traffic to poorly made umbrellas to bad coffee — these things color our collective outlook and our disposition to one another.
Maybe if we would pay attention to the little things…