Originally published here. I love this article and the memories it stirs of gas station coffee road trip breaks in the middle of nowhere New Mexico, instant coffee powder with my morning chai in India, styrofoam cups of Folgers at a community bake sale, and late night/early morning IHOP runs during a debate tournament. Bad coffee is about the moment and I’m glad this article celebrates it.
I don’t have memories of such bonding experiences taking place over a flat white at a Manhattan coffee shop or a $5 cup of nitro iced coffee at a Brooklyn cafe. High-end coffee doesn’t usually lend itself to such moments. Instead, it’s something to be fussed over and praised; you talk more about its origin and its roaster, its flavor notes and its brewing method than you talk to the person you’re enjoying it with. Bad coffee is the stuff you make a full pot of on the weekends just in case some friends stop by. It’s what you sip when you’re alone at the mechanic’s shop getting your oil change, thinking about where your life has taken you; what you nurse as you wait for a loved one to get through a tough surgery. It’s the Sanka you share with an elderly great aunt while listening to her tell stories you’ve heard a thousand times before. Bad coffee is there for you. It is bottomless. It is perfect.