I wrote about my love of coffee recently, specifically about my disdain for plastic lids (see Devil May Care). One of the troublesome things about moving to a small town is the lack of coffee houses here. Now, we do actually have two places, right across the street from one another like gas stations. But while their coffee is pretty decent, their hours are pitiful.

When we lived in Toledo, I used to stop for coffee on my way to church usually before 7 am. (I know it’s not good for my throat, all that caffeine and acid, and it’s affecting my singing. Like any addict I know it’s not good for me but I can’t stop. The lure of hot java is just too strong.) The coffee places in my small town aren’t open at all on Sundays. Nor are they open past 6 pm on weeknights. (One is only open later on weekends because they also offer wine and beer. And live music, which goes well with both beer and wine, and coffee too.) So, sometimes when I drop the girls off for their Wednesday night activities, I’ll amble over to McDonald’s, which hardly presents an atmosphere for reading or studying or writing, but then, they never promised one.

I was delighted to learn several months ago that Seattle’s Best was coming to town. No, Borders bookstore wasn’t expanding in our town of 10,000. Evidently, Seattle’s Best contracted with Burger King and Subway, and I think Taco Bell too. No atmosphere, but good coffee.

A couple weeks ago I stopped at Burger King to pick up some Seattle’s Best before heading to a meeting. When the makeshift barista handed me my coffee through the drive-thru window, I was startled by the cup, for it wasn’t red but brown and the familiar Seattle’s Best brand was missing. Was I expected to believe that the cup inscribed with Burger King’s logo did, in fact, contain Seattle’s Best brew, though all evidence supported the contrary? Was this Seattle’s Best coffee and they were just using old Burger King cups? Or did they run out of the good stuff and tried clumsily to pass on the king’s blend to unsuspecting customers? I could do but one thing. I had to taste it.

Recently I was talking with a distressed friend. He isn’t a close friend, an acquaintance really. Since he doesn’t know me well, he’d taken some of the things I’d said differently than how I’d intended them. Where I’d meant a joke, he thought I was serious. (Humor is very often misconstrued.) He wasn’t sure about who I was on the inside. The cup didn’t look like Seattle’s Best to him, so he assumed it wasn’t. I’m glad he talked with me, though, so I could try to help him see my heart. It also reminded me how the things I say (and write) might be misinterpreted, further convincing me of the importance of the editing process.

How can you really know what’s on the inside? I guess you have to go by what you observe and provide benefit where there is doubt. And most importantly, when the cup is suspect, investigate further. Before you toss it out, taste it.

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