Cup of Joe drinkers unite! 

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I'm not, generally, much of a believer in conspiracy theories. I'm much more inclined toward simple explanations, having been schooled by Sherlock Holmes to believe once you've eliminated all that is impossible, whatever remains, however improbably, must be the truth. Or, as Agatha Christie preferred, "The simplest explanation is always the most likely."

Even when I lived in New Mexico and the town of Roswell was a visible glow in the night's sky, I couldn't bring myself to believe in little green men, except for the ones I'd seen outside seedy bars in the throes of alcohol poisoning. I believe in them now even less, imagining any extraterrestial life form is far more likely to poison its own atmosphere long before they harness the power sufficient to travel between solar systems.

With the exception of a brief period, I always believed Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I was certain Neil Armstrong was walking on the moon and not a Hollywood soundstage in Area 51, or wherever. I never believed agents of the Royal Industrial Complex killed Princess Diana for fooling around with whatshisname. I was pretty sure the only "government" that may have been involved in flying commercial jets into the World Trade Center bore the initials S.A., and I really didn't believe they had anything to do with it.

I don't believe global warming, climate change, whatever, is a Chinese conspiracy hoax. That having been said, I do believe the 45th president of the U.S. may well be a Russian hoax, er, joke. But then, I was also willing to believe the unholy trinity of St. Reagan, Brian Mulroney and Maggie Thatcher were reptilian pod people and I'm pretty sure Stephen Harper was an android.

But... I have come to believe firmly in an insidious conspiracy from which I personally suffer and about which I refuse to be silent any longer.

Knowledge of this monstrous wrong has been but a foggy, incompletely formed notion lurking just below my consciousness for, well, decades now. Like so many victims, I just thought it was somehow my personal failing. I suffered in silence, ashamed to even think it was just a lack of strength or resolve on my part.

But then, it all became clear.

Sitting in a sign-of-the-siren coffee shop in San Francisco, amusing myself watching the crazy street people who seem to make up a significant part of the public tableau in that city, I unthinkingly took a sip from my just-poured cup of black coffee. Sweet Jesus! What was I thinking? Here I am in one of the culinary capitals of the world and stupidly just sipped coffee so hot it's scalded my tongue, melted my taste buds and blistered my upper palate. "Dammit," I thought. Everything I taste for the next 36 hours is going to taste like the remains of a party ashtray. Dammit!

I felt, momentarily, like I imagine Stella Liebeck felt... only different. Ms. Liebeck was the woman whose McDonald's coffee spilled between her legs in 1992, resulting in severe burns and an award of $3 million in punitive damages against the company for serving coffee dangerously hot.

But then I realized — as I waited long enough for my coffee to cool down to a non-life-threatening temperature, a period of time long enough for my partner to order a second no-fat, no-foam latte — I was the victim of a different kind of action. Not negligence. Not inadvertence. No. Conspiracy! It was a conspiracy against coffee drinkers.

Perhaps this is a good time to state my own bias, as clearly self-evident as it seems to me. There are two kinds of coffee drinkers in the world. And no, I don't mean those who dichotomize and those who don't. There are people who like coffee, obviously. And there are people who like the taste of coffee-flavoured beverages. People who like coffee drink, well, coffee. Black. Strong. Hot... but not scalding. Only idiots drink scalding hot coffee.

But people who like coffee-flavoured beverages add cream, milk, almond milk, soy milk, caramel, various natural and artificial flavours, cinnamon, sprinkles, whipped cream, flavoured shots and several hundred other adulterants in combinations that make ordering coffee roughly akin to specifying the parameters of an advanced weapons system. If you just drink coffee and are unfortunate enough to get behind one of them, they're annoying as hell and, let's face it, speak a completely different language. Christ, it would be faster to just go home and brew a pot of coffee than wait behind them for your simple cup of black java.

But they're just an annoyance. They don't know any better. They don't really like coffee. They're not the crux of the conspiracy being plotted against black coffee drinkers.

Drip coffee, in virtually every single place that still sells the stuff is brewed at lava-like temperatures. It's made exclusively for those poor deluded souls who want to add any and all of that stuff which has, of course, the effect of lowering its temperature to the point it no longer cauterizes the insides of their mouths.

Why is this? Glad you asked. Follow the money. It all comes down to profit and discrimination. The profit margin on a cup of black coffee, which is, after all, just coffee, is about 150 per cent. A fair profit for a fair cup. But the profit margin on a 700-calorie, adulterant-rich coffee-flavoured beverage/snack is about a million per cent. Hell, it hardly has any coffee in it!

Clearly this is blatant economic discrimination. But it's also lifestyle discrimination. It's a conspiracy to keep people who like coffee out of sight and in their own homes where they can drink a cup-o-joe at a temperature fit for the human mouth. It's a public shaming of real coffee drinkers. We are sick and tired of being scalded or forced to exercise extreme delayed gratification and we're not going to take it any more.

Right here, right now, the movement starts.#BlackCoffeeMatters.

If you scald us, do we not cry out? If you force us to wait, do we not shake uncontrollably? Why? Because you make less profit on us? Because we fill our cups to the brim with just coffee? Because we prefer the rich, complex flavour of coffee and don't want to get a third of our daily calories from a beverage? Because we prefer our brew vegan?

Lower the temp; be more inclusive. Toss us a bone or bear the consequences of thousands, OK, hundreds, well, maybe dozens of protestors outside your scaldarama coffee shop.


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