Culture of Food · Foods

Coffee vs. Tea: The Eternal War?

Tastes change. Most of the time this is nothing important. You probably hated vegetables as a kid, and now that you’ve grown up you probably eat them regularly. But what about when, by changing your tastes, you have gotten into the middle of one of the most intense debates on earth? What if switching from tea to coffee triggers an intense identity crisis the likes of which is only comparable to Edward’s internal vampiric conflict over his love for Bella?

Such arguments of duality and a polarized population are innate to the American Experience. Coke or Pepsi? Edward or Jacob? Is the Dress Blue and Black, or Gold and White?

Do you drink Tea or Coffee?

It’s a struggle that even diplomats involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict avoid with a 39 1/2 foot pole. Somehow, I questioned my allegiance in this titanic war of preferred caffeine delivery vessels when I started drinking coffee at age 23.

I have always been a tea person. I was an Anglophile, practically a 10 downing street regular. I was a Japanophile and glorified their calming attitude towards tea and the elegant ritual surrounding it. To me, people who used coffee used it as their crutch to survive, unlike the stalwart battalions of the elegant tea army. I bought endless tea paraphernalia, exotic teas, loose teas, and pushed it as hard as a Crystal Meth dealer in south LA. I was the Heisenberg of tea. I remember distinctly feeling betrayed when my brother started drinking coffee when he was in his mid teens. He became the Cain to my Abel, murdering me with java chip and blue mountain. I was always a purist, only taking my tea straight without milk or sugar.

But then suddenly, I started to like coffee (he whispered menacingly from the shadows).

I had tried it several times. You may be wondering why the self proclaimed Heisenberg of tea would allow the hated coffee to pass his lips. But even I am susceptible to the pressure of my peers.  Many of them had tried to get me to turn to coffee with the gateway drug of mocha whipped cream caramel Frappuccino with chocolate sauce, chocolate shavings, and extra sugar, hold the coffee. I virulently hated it, and referred to it as a bitter milkshake. The first time I had a real cup of coffee was when I was on a transatlantic flight to Israel, and I caved due to desperation for any liquid after hours without a drink. I choked it down with half a dozen cream cups and an equal number of sugar packets.

The transition came when I had my first cup of black drip coffee. Suddenly, the reasoning was clear! It wasn’t the coffee I detested, but the sugar or cream! Everyone had thought I would need that to like coffee, but it’s the pure black bitter stuff that I actually like. Why didn’t I see it before! I take my tea straight, why wouldn’t I take my coffee straight?

And then I was confronted with a dilemma. Could I be someone who liked Tea AND Coffee?

You might be expecting a bombastic diatribe over the intensity of this decision, but you know what? I’m done with fighting and warfare. I’m just a guy who drinks the beverages he likes. It doesn’t have to say anything about you as a person. Can’t we all just get along?

I had a lot of fun making all of these jokes, but it’s clear how dangerous polarizing behavior really is in America. It’s all fun and games until people stop talking or scream at each other over things that don’t actually matter. Your drink of choice or preferred sexy dude from Forks, Washington doesn’t have to define you, and we will be a better nation if you can reach across the aisle and take a sip of coffee.
P.S. The dress is Black and Blue.

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