I wonder about things. Weird things. For example:
Who was it that invented coffee? I’m not really as interested in the “who” as the “how.” Who was it who looked at a coffee bean and said, “You know what? I bet if we pick that thing, roast it, then grind it into dust, then run hot water over it, the water will be good to drink.”
Wow. Quite the imagination there. But it worked out okay.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Coffee is one hell of an invention so there must have been one hell of necessity preceding it.
Juan Valdez didn’t like to fly. It seemed unnatural to him, much like the Tower of Babel. Wasn’t clawing so high into the sky an affront to God? He shuddered at the thought and crossed himself for the umpteenth time. Yet, somehow, here he was. Squeezed into a tiny seat locked in the fully upright position, gazing out the window at 41,000 feet with the vastness of the Andes far below.
Worse, a soccer team in the back had been causing quite the ruckus. They just wouldn’t shut up.
They say be careful for what you wish for. Juan wished for a little peace and quiet. He got his wish.
Dimly Juan became aware that consciousness was crowding into his reality. He opened his eyes and blinked. He was lying in the snow. Strewn around him was sizzling, sparking airplane wreckage. He looked for others but he was completely alone. He checked himself and found no injury so he stood up. Miraculously he seemed to be unharmed.
Climbing a peak nearby, he spotted the soccer team on the other side. They were crowded around a tube of toothpaste and embroiled in a heated discussion about rationing it. Juan decided to keep his distance and headed off in the opposite direction.
The rest, as they say, is history. Juan climbed down out of the snow, found a very strange bush and tasted its fruit. Icky! So he did the next best thing. He built a fire, roasted some of the strange fruit, fashioned a mortar to grind what he had roasted, then built a filter, heated some water, and had the world’s first cup of coffee. He liked it. And he had just cheated death, too. The life giving nourishment of the coffee had saved Juan’s life.
It was a lesson he never forgot.
A few years later there was a terrible earthquake. Juan survived, and so did Burro, his pet civet, but during the earthquake Burro had escaped. Burro promptly ate up Juan’s supply of coffee beans he had been planning to roast.
The next day Juan was desperate. He was feverish with hunger. Nearby was a pile of Burro’s poop. It was almost at the very end when Juan had an idea. His fingers scrabbled into that poop and extracted the beans previously eaten by Burro the civet. Necessity had just blessed Juan with the second major discovery of his life. He carefully prepared the beans and found the journey had transformed them into something even more delicious! An expensive new product had been born.
Juan told his cousin Cabriabanus in Thailand about what happened with the civet. Juan made him promise to keep his secret. Cabriabanus had his fingers crossed.
“Think,” he told himself. “There has to be a way to capitalize on this civet thing. But how? I have no civets! Think, idiot!” Cabriabanus was often known to be hard on himself.
Worse, his elephant wouldn’t leave him alone. It kept pushing its trunk through the window trying to steal the beans Cabriabanus was staring at, hoping in vain for inspiration.
A few beans disappeared into the elephant’s trunk when it hit him. “Eureaka!” he shouted. “That’s it! If it works for a civet, why not something else?”
Flushed with excitement Cabriabanus bolted from his home in search of elephant dung. Luck was with him and he soon found what he sought: Poop-soaked coffee beans digested by his elephant and freshly pushed out.
The rest, as they say, is history. This fine product is now available for the intrepid who are wealthy enough to partake. Elephant dung coffee retails for about $500/pound or $50 per delicious luxurious cup. “Celebrate poop moments in your mouth” is my recommendation for their sloagan.
Meanwhile, Tom stared at his monitor, vainly hoping for inspiration. He needed a way to make money and get out of his dead-end job. He was using visualization, positivity techniques and, oh hell, he was even praying. He was desperate. He was ready to try anything.
His pet rat, Thomas, kept running across his keyboard, playing with a loose coffee bean that Tom was focusing on in his quest for illumination. “Dammit, Thomas! Will you cut it out? This is important!”
Then it hit him. Coffee bean. Thomas. A rat mouth. A rat who pooped a lot. A grin slowly appeared on Tom’s face.
“Why not?” he said out loud. “Why not indeed?”
Tom looked at his pet rat with a fresh twinkle in his eyes. “I say, Tom. What do you think? Any chance we can fit this here bean down your gullet?”