Note: I’m a columnist for the Reader Weekly, an alt-weekly newspaper in Duluth, MN. Every Monday I post a new column.
It was 6:50am at McDonald’s. A withered old man in a corner booth coughed violently, groaning and wiping the phlegm from his chin with a cheap paper napkin. A few tables away, a morbidly obese man – at least 350 pounds – devoured his breakfast platter, barely chewing, with a second breakfast nearby. Across the empty restaurant, a half-retarded homeless man muttered and stared angrily at his hands.
Normally, this sort of scene wouldn’t be out of the ordinary here. The gross old man, sickly obese guy, and deranged homeless person are as much a part of every McDonald’s as Ronald McDonald himself. What made this scene bizarre is that each of these loonies were drinking gourmet iced coffee.
Starbucks fans, your coolness factor just dropped like shares of . . . well, take your pick. They’re all dropping.
It doesn’t matter that McDonald’s new “gourmet” coffee sucks compared to your upscale coffee. What matters is that tacky, low-class people now like the same trendy drink as you. These buffoons will chat you up about it at work, relating how they love the subtle flavors of gourmet coffee, just like you. Within a few years, trendy people will have to abandon gourmet coffee altogether, desperate to find something, anything to drink that will keep lesser folk from talking to them.
I’ve never been a coffee man. Hot drinks that make your breath smell like a dead rat (yes mom, that’s what your breath smells like) were never really my thing. A cold soda at 6am is enough for me. Like a beautifully-timed punch in the face, the carbonation wakes me up in the bluntest way possible. Especially if I drink it right after brushing my teeth.
Coffee has always been too complicated for me. You have to add things like sugar and cream, and calculate how much is needed. This is all stuff I can’t do when I’m half-asleep. With Starbucks coffee, things have only gotten worse. What was once a 50 or 75-cent cup of basic Joe is now a $4 grande flavored with sugary treats. Vanilla? Carmel? Peppermint with whipped cream? That’s not a coffee, that’s a goddamn ice cream sundae.
Coffee originally came to prominence for two reasons: It was strong like a kick in the groin and it was cheap. If your father knew what you were doing to the time-honored tradition of coffee, he’d punch you straight through the front door of an orphanage and throw in your birth certificate after you.
To the untrained eye, the introduction of iced coffee at McDonald’s may seem like bandwagon jumping performed solely for profit. But I think there’s a greater scheme at work here. McDonald’s is getting into the business of anarchy. America likes trendy coffee? Then we’re going to offer it too, thereby ruining it for everyone.
I never thought I’d say this, but I really love McDonald’s all of a sudden. Sure, they have a horribly unethical menu, where even items that should be healthy – like salads and fish sandwiches – are so pumped full of fat and sugar that your urine will turn white for 12 hours after eating them. But anarchy? I can support that.
For years, my upscale co-workers, knowing I prefer cold drinks, have been trying to force iced coffee upon me. I’ve always refused, my cheap nature not allowing me to pay $4 for a drink with no alcohol in it. But thanks to McDonald’s, all I have to do is mention the restaurant’s inferior iced coffee and my co-workers immediately abandon me, deeming me unworthy of their companionship. Awesome!
Now I just need to wait for a fanatic fan base to form. Once this cloudy tap water from the employee restroom disguised as iced coffee becomes popular, trendy people will get annoyed. It shouldn’t take long. Just look at this hilarious messageboard post, written by one of the millions of hicks who will soon be arguing endlessly about the superiority of McDonald’s coffee:
“I love the taste of the vaniilla iced coffee. It blows the expensve starbucks crap out of the water.
I got sick the first two times, but I think I got used to it and I don’t notice it any more. The stuff is pretty much an intense laxative though… so make sure there is a restroom nearby. Seriously. Its difficult to explain the effect this will have on your body.
That’s not fake. I couldn’t make that up if I tried. It’s an actual messageboard post from a food blog. After five years of people like this forcing arguments about coffee on trendy people, flavored coffee will be as uncool as Limp Bizkit albums. Here’s another messageboard post:
“I fear that I may have suffered internal and possibly external injuries.
Once it is safe to leave the house I will probably go buy another one because they are that flipping GOOD. I will just wait until I get home to drink it.”
Brilliant! If Billy Wilder made a comedy about bad coffee, that line would have been in it. The tides of trendiness are changing, America. Overpriced coffee – its 310 calories and 58 grams of sugar making Americans fatter – will soon be a thing of the past. To quote/ruin the words of Lady Macbeth, “Out, damned coffee! Out, I say!”