Go Tell It on the Mountain

“Blue Mountain, I bet you have never drunk it.”

Bottle, it’s Blue Bottle, cold brew coffee from San Francisco. My mind merrily talking to itself while the actress is calling it the noblest of coffee, flavourful.

“It’s Jamaican.”

My know-it-all mindgasm is interrupted. Like when meeting a new acquaintance and the evening’s hot and steamy promises are cold-showered by something said.

My mind seeks relief from the dissonance. It starts reciting its version of the story of espresso in the US – a neat continuum starting with the beatniks, also known as hipsters.

50’s coffeehouses. Meeting places to read cool poetry and listen to far-out jazz. Berets and espresso part of an imaginary Parisian Bohemian lifestyle.

And then came the baby hipsters, also known as hippies (the etymology of which includes its first usage in an article about the Blue Unicorn coffeehouse ).

Berkeley, where the Free Speech Movement was a seminal moment for the hippie movement. Berkeley where the Dutchman Alfred Peet started French roasting beans and taught his craft to the three founders of Starbucks. Starbucks now too popular to be hip.

The play finishes, I head home, and go to the internet. Wikipedia tells me all about Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee.


She tells me she doesn’t like coffee. It’s the bitterness. She’ll drink it disguised with syrups and smothered with cream.

I ask if she has heard of Blue Mountain coffee, asking the question so that I can follow the hoped for “No” with “It’s the most expensive coffee that doesn’t come out of an animal’s butt.”

Another set up. I get to reply to her questioning look with the story of the Indonesian coffee pickers, forbidden from drinking the coffee they farmed, picking the beans out of civet droppings. Kopi Luwak, born of a forbidden fruit and stomach enzymes.

And then there’s the clever entrepreneur who started feeding coffee berries to Thai elephants.

“I could never drink it knowing where it came from.”

“Potatoes and other root vegetables are in direct contact with fertilizers. I’d try it. ” I think I can see her thinking about it and deciding that the two things are different.

She wonders if I have ever tried the Blue Mountain Coffee.

“Once. I was early for a rendezvous and went into a boutique coffeehouse. When I saw it was on the menu, I ordered a cup. Mild, with a slightly tangy aftertaste. Good coffee but I’m not about to make a habit of drinking four-euro espressos.”

The talk of being early for a rendezvous makes her apologize a second time for being late. “I bumped the gate at the garden centre and it took forever to give my details. If it wasn’t for the asshole that ratted me out to the store manager, I could have been here earlier.”