Five Guilty Pleasures: COLD COFFEE

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Five Guilty Pleasures
tall iced coffee with Rodney Curtis column photo by Kenny Louie used courtesy WikimediaFrom Dr. Wayne Baker: This week, welcome author Rodney Curtis, whose first two books chart his course from a career in traditional journalism through survival of cancer—and an upcoming third book will cover his life in the crumbling of America’s newspaper industry. Thousands of readers have followed his long-running blog, The Spiritual Wanderer, drawn to his style of laughing even in the face of fear.  As Rodney usually does, this week, he is considering American values from an entirely fresh perspective—looking at those moments of joy that surprise us and keep us going day after day.
Here is Rodney’s first column …

Cold coffee.

Even the phrase instills distrust. Who would sip something icy cold that should—in its natural state—be hot?

I distinctly remember when my wife and I made the conscious decision to jump into the coffee craze. It was the early ’90s and it seemed like coffee was hip and happening (though the phrase “hip and happening” has never been hip and happening). Starbucks had burst onto the scene but since our little town out east wasn’t “sophisticated enough” for one of those joints, we settled on Dunkin Donuts.

First, though, we had to get over the fact that coffee tasted really bad. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but on its own, coffee is bitter and scalding hot. That’s why God invented cream and sugar. Put yourself in our shoes: We were young journalists chasing politicians all over New Hampshire and a molten hot beverage sitting in your cup holder doesn’t always make the best traveling companion. Neither really, did journalist John King—whom I ferried from the airport, all the while hearing nothing but a tapping on his computer—but I digress.

Enter iced coffee. On the very same trip where John King ignored me (something about being on a deadline) we swung through Quikava, a drive-through joint next to the airport. I could keep my eyes on the road while my lips were plastered to a rich, sweet, succulent—chilled—brew shooting through my mouth and veins. Life was incredible.

Then, like a strung-out junkie who finds a full bag of Cheetos, I somehow fell in with an even worse crowd, the chosen frozen. I think it was Coffee Coolattas at first or—wait, no, no, it was definitely Frappuccinos! I catapulted through space and time, ending up first in Midland, where I would actually call ahead at Zero Dark Thirty to the local Dunkin Donuts and order their special homemade version of a Coolatta before work. Then I landed here in the Detroit area, where an evil Cappuccino Blast from Baskin-Robbins was so intoxicating, I devoted an entire chapter about it in my first book, Spiritual Wanderer.

It didn’t stop there, oh no. In the book’s dedication, after mentioning my wife and daughters, I said they were: “The three things in my life better than Cappuccino Blasts!” What the #@! is wrong with me? I openly and publicly admitted to loving my family as much as a caffeinated beverage. I have a disease.

Thankfully, dear reader, my predilections have slightly altered again and the vastly caloric frozen drinks have somewhat given way to the milder, decaffeinated calm of a certain large Tim Horton’s iced coffee. And usually, I walk with my wife down the block to procure one, so there’s at least a modicum of exercise involved.

It’s still cold and it’s still coffee, but for now I think I’ve finally gotten the monkey off my back.

What’s one of your guilty pleasures?

What reliably gives you a moment of joy in daily life?

Share this series with friends. Especially if you’re a regular reader of The Spiritual Wanderer and you want to alert friends to this one-week, temporary home for Rodney’s stories. You know what to do: Click any of those buttons above the cold coffee picture.

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  1. Paul Hile says

    Rodney, like you, I wake up for that morning coffee.
    But mine is pure, unadulterated coffee. No cream. No sugar. No muss or fuss.
    Just the good, acidic stuff! With loads of caffeine.

  2. Jane Wells says

    Without a suitable drive-through coffee joint between me and my offsprings’ swim lessons, I’ve gotten very creative with very strong coffee, milk and ice.

    My own iced coffee creations might not be “Coolatta” label worthy, but they keep me from acting on my urge to cannonball into the pool…

  3. Rodney Curtis says

    Jane, I weep for you. Though living in a caffeine free desert isn’t the WORST case scenario. Imagine drinking your coffee straight, like Paul!!

  4. Beth Miller says

    Imagine moving to a Utah town that is mostly Mormon, situation is worse than Paul’s! Great place to purchase a fancy coffee maker at a discount. Learned to always look on the bright side.

  5. Debra says

    I can’t think of iced coffee without thinking of my mother. Imagine a young married woman from the Bronx
    landing in Atlanta in the 60’s. Can you imagine the exchange when a waitress would ask if she wanted “sweet tea”
    [iced tea already sweetened] and she replied, “No, I’ll have a glass of iced cawfee, thank you.” I’m not a coffee drinker, nor a cawfee drinker, but iced with a lot of cream and sugar? Yum!

  6. Bobbie Lewis says

    For several years I’ve been saving any leftover morning hot coffee in a jug in the fridge. Now that I’ve found bottled caramel and vanilla syrups at the dollar store, I can make a great iced coffee in a jiff — put ice cubes in a tall glass, add s small shot of syrup, fill with coffee halfway and top off with milk. As good as anything in the overpriced stores!

  7. Rodney says

    Beth, I thought at first you were recounting the beginnings of Footloose!

    Debra, I wonder a lot about commonplace foods these days and how people survived w/o them back in the day. I never tasted Indian food until AFTER college, Midwesterner that I am. Now I eat it on pizza.

    Bobbie, we do that a lot too! Although when they came out with Coldstone coffee creamer, I knew I was sunk.

  8. Suzy Farbman says

    I had just hit the fridge and altered the chemical composition of my Keurig-derived now tepid coffee with ice cubes and additional almond milk (more calcium than regular milk, you know, and way more digestible) when I tuned in to the above column.
    Right on, Rodney. And write on!