I wrote this for my Culturally Speaking colum in the GDN but then decided it wasn't good enough to be published, so I figured why not share it with my dear blog readers, perhaps they'll have a thing or two to say about it?
Here’s the thing about instant coffee: it is NOT coffee.
“Of course it is.” Someone would argue. And I would give up the argument, because I realize it’s more often than not, futile. You’re either pro instant coffee, or anti. You can predict which group I fall into.
For a reason I have been trying to understand for the past 12 years, people in Bahrain – and specifically in workplaces – have this perverse relationship with instant coffee. It is if they simply have to honor it by serving it in their offices. Have you never heard of coffee machines? Instant coffee might’ve been cool in the 80s, but people should know better now.
Wikipedia tells me that: “The lowest quality coffee beans are used in the production of instant coffee and (get this!) sometimes other unwanted residues from the harvest are used in the production process.” Eww… this reminds me of the time I found a chicken beak in the form of a nugget as part of my fast food meal.
Apparently, I should blame the Japanese. A little over a century ago, a Japanese scientist named Satori Kato invented instant coffee in Chicago. The Japanese are a great people, and their inventions have had a great impact in advancing technology and life in ways never thought possible before, but on god’s green Earth, why? All their good deeds is wiped out by this one big unforgivable crime against humanity.
Yes, I do have an issue with it. And so should you. You call something what it is, and instant coffee is, I stress, not real coffee. Doesn’t taste like it, smell like it, or even resemble it. It’s a consumable substitute created to give the illusion to the masses that they are drinking chemically manufactured substances in the form of powder. I just can’t trust anything that comes in powder from.
But when you go into a meeting, visit a friend at their office, or find yourself locked in a new workplace environment, and you’re offered a cup of coffee, you don’t want to sound rude and well, a coffee-snob. So you drink that vile stuff and you squirm through its bitter aftertaste and hold your breath every time you bring the cup closer to your mouth for another undesirable sip, and you tell yourself to either learn to say no next time, settle for tea, or simply stop visiting. For good.
At my first job as a receptionist, and throughout my years as a journalist, in every single workplace, that dreadful canister of instant coffee awaited me in the office kitchen, fat with that brown-bity substance that disguises itself as coffee. They’re the plague, you can run from them, but you can’t hide. They’ll get you. Always do. Unexpectedly sometimes, and you eventually find yourself giving up the fight.
I suppose what we need is a revolt. I take this dais to call in all employees around Bahrain to revolt against their employers and demand Proper Coffee, in place of the cheap stuff they get now. Today is the day we put instant coffee to bed. All Hail Proper Coffee!