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black coffee man: a journey

“I hate coffee”

That was me.  Words I actually said when a friend handed me some coffee laden garbage at 2am before I slammed the door, got onto the highway, and drove south into the night.

First sip . . . “this is not bad”345435

Second sip . . . “I think I can handle this stuff”

Tenth sip . . . “I don’t feel so hot”

Twelfth sip . . . “This coffee is making me ill”

Final sip . . . “This is going out the window”

. . . . . .

That was 7 years ago in 2002, the year I decided I hated coffee.

It was also the year I decided that I would learn to love coffee.


Dads drink coffee. Men drink coffee. Students drink coffee.

So, basically, it was a necessity. (right?)

I started my journey with drinks that were as close to milkshakes as I could find, so it was a solid diet of frappuccinos (mint chocolate chip, vanilla bean, caramel, vanilla, and miscellaneous seasonal varieties).

At first, I was forcing myself to deal with the coffee flavor, but a pressed forward into the foreign and frightening realm of “lattes” and “mochas” . . . having no clue what those words meant, but knowing I could have all the chocolate and caramel syrup I wanted squirted into my cup to deaden the “expresso” flavor I so dreaded.

In time, I developed an appreciation for these drinks, realizing that my favorite beverages came from the local coffee shops of Louisville, Kentucky that had access to locally roasted beans of the best espresso variety (yeah, I finally learned to say “espresso” without an “ex” sound).

“Whoa! I am starting to develop a taste for this stuff!”

Encouraged, I pressed forward . . . quickly moving into the world of Mistos, Americano, and flavored coffee.

I was so close, so very close indeed, to conquering my taste buds and becoming a “black coffee man”.

Buy I just couldn’t get over the hump.

And then, one special morning in Dallas, I met the Affectionate Communist.

. . . . . .

Driving up from Texas, I stopped to stay the night with my buddy Mason King.

Mase took me to breakfast at the Crooked Tree Coffeehouse.

Mase told me about this drink I had never heard of before, a drink with the kick of a full blown Communist dictator but the smoothness of a . . . well . . . benevolent dictator, let’s say.

Mase introduced me to Jason, the barista, who passed me a small brown mug, smooth syruppy caramelly brown contents smiling up at me.

Mase treated me to a truly Affectionate Communist.blackc

Mase got me over the hump – I realized that I didn’t need cream to thicken the texture of my coffee, I needed more coffee . . . thicker coffee, richer coffee, and a little sugar to pull it all together.

Mase brought this epic journey to its final destination.

Mase made me a black coffee man.

. . . . .

Do you have a fastastical story of your own experience with the coffee beverage?

If you are a coffee lover, is it more for the ritual of the coffee or the actual consumption of the beverage, itself?

  1. Tyler
    July 15, 2009 at 9:33 am

    I’ve wanted to be a black coffee man for awhile, and I often seem to go back and forth between the strong stuff and “frou frou” drinks. I’m encouraged by your own personal journey and look forward to the day that my own masculinity culminates in pushing the cream and syrups aside and indulging in one large mug of dark coffee. Thank you, Lee Wilson.

  2. Brandon
    July 15, 2009 at 11:37 am

    My name is Brandon, and I’m a black coffee man.

    For a long time I would only drink machiatos (sp?) and such, and if it was drip coffee — hand me the Coffeemate Creamer.

    Enter Sunergos.

    While doing childcare for a community group one night, Josh Monroe offered me a cup of straight up Sunergos Blend drip coffee. No frills. Just good brewing. And I loved it. It opened up a whole new world to me (“A whooole new woooorld (don’t you dare close your eyes)! A new fantastic pooooiiinnt of vieeewww…”).

    Now, I only drink it black. It tastes good to me. It’s easier. Saves money on creamer. And I’m able to taste the different roasts and beans with their subtleties.

    Here’s to you, Josh Monroe. “Cotton candy sweet as gold, let me see that Josh Monroe.”

  3. Brandon
    July 15, 2009 at 11:38 am

    …and yes, there were two — count ’em — song references in that comment.

  4. July 15, 2009 at 11:49 am


    To your . . . “Now, I only drink it black. It tastes good to me. It’s easier. Saves money on creamer. And I’m able to taste the different roasts and beans with their subtleties” . . . I raise my mug.

    You always were a jolly “tubthumper” and I think you deserve a “kiss from a rose on the grave”

    How do you like them apples?

    (2 sons lyric references . . . and I raise you a movie quote)

  5. July 15, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    For a long time the smell made me gag. In high school I started the “ice cream” varieties. In college I would study at Sweet Eugene’s for 10-12 hours at a time, and by the end of college I should have owned part of Sweet Eugene’s for all the money I had spent there. But the real turning point was working at Camp Buckner where we ran all day in the summer sun, went to sleep around 11:30-12, woke up at 5:45 a.m. and started it all again. That summer I drank a full cup of the 16 oz styrofoam cups. With sugar and 2 creamers. After college I drank coffee most days when I was working, if I wasn’t drinking hot black tea (I drank Lady Grey tea the day before having my daughter). I stopped the day I had Gracie.

    So all that to say, I started for the affect it had on me, and now it is for both the affect, and the emotional pleasure derived from a cup of hot coffee. There is something oddly comforting and familiar in the bitter brew.

  6. Jason
    July 15, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    As a good man once said, “Give me black n’ bitter and glad to gitter.”

    The journey to black was probably a relatively short one for me. I got introduced to coffee, was intrigued, started visiting coffee shops, and morphed to only wanting it black in about a year. My taste buds are suited to prefer bitter, bold tastes to sweets anyway, which is probably why I never messed with the fru fru’s.

    I remember the days (not too long ago) when Beth was teaching me how to make a cup of coffee, when I would call my more sophisticated coffee baristas asking how to even order a drink while standing in line at Starbucks, to now piously lifting my nose at the thought of drinking Starbucks coffee. I affirm what’s already been stated in this thread – give me Sunergos coffee (or secondly Quills) or nothing else. I’ll spit in your starbucks sir. A person just can’t appreciate a good roasted coffee bean unless it’s drunk as a black drink.

    And now, to continue the spirit of song singing:

    Here’s to you Mr. ‘Black Coffee’ Man Drinker (cue 80s dramatic backup vocals: “Missterrr ‘blaackk cofffeeeee’ man drriiiiinkeeeeeeerr!”) –
    To all those prideful comments you make to those who pour sweetener in their drinks (“look at that Sally pouring sweeeetteennerrr…”) –
    For the bitter, angry, unabashedly rude comments you make reflecting the very type of coffee you drink if you don’t get it in the morning (“get outta my way or I’ll kick your heeeaaadd off!!”)…
    For the yellow teeth you unashamedly flash reflecting your allegiance to your addiction (“smell that stinky coffeeeeee breeeeeaaaaath…”)…
    We raise our cups to you, because there’s nothing more worthy of being prideful about than whether you pour sweetener in a drink.

  7. Brandon
    July 16, 2009 at 5:56 am

    Bravo, Jason. Bravo.

    Jason coined “the journey to black”. That should be either a band name, or a movie title. OR…more appropriately, a menu item at a coffee shop.

  8. July 16, 2009 at 6:02 am

    While I am truly glad that we share a common drink when we order ‘the usual,’ I must admit that it was Jason who introduced me to the act of pulling the shots with the sugar. My life has since been changed.

    My journey with black coffee started at an early age. In elementary school, when kids were at little league games, watching their saturday morning cartoons, or off building ill-fated bicycle ramps – I was putting on my coat and tie, and headed to campaign meetings with my father. The Republican Council of this and that, endless meetings to get the word out that my father was the man for office that year in the court.

    I distinctly remember one morning as I decided to fill my cup with what all the grown ups were drinking. I began to look through and decide what magical (and probably stomach pain inducing) mix of creamers I could employ when my father said, “I’ll tell you now, when you start drinking, what my father told me. He said to learn to drink it black, and to like it. They’ll never have all the fixings that you want, and it’s better to just take the coffee straight up.”

    I knew then, that this was part of Manhood. My grandfather, whom I never had the pleasure of meeting, had impressed this upon my dad at a young age. Now I carried a bit of the King mantle of coffee drinkers.

    Now, I can hear your snide remarks. But I must tell you, since this was the word of advice to me, it has affected my taste buds. I like bold, rich, and complex flavors. It’s gotta hit me, and I don’t want it diluted. I’m there for the flavor, but I came for the kick in the caffeine.

    Fast forward 10-15 years. Skip the adolescent and confused Starbucks wanderings, the mocha valencia sweetness-encased sugar attacks, and progress to the good, quality coffee that I was introduced to on foreign soil.

    I sat down during one of my first tours in Paris and ordered a coffee. The waiter brought out to me a cup that fit within the palm of my hand, with enough liquid for one gulp.

    I knew I was in love.

    Intense flavor, compact serving, and a distinct nature of difference from the cup of motor oil that the Deluxe served in College Station.

    Hello France. Hello ‘un cafe doble.’

    A sordid affair with the espresso of France left me discontent with shots that I have found here in different places. I meandered from coffee house to coffee house, trying to substitute a drink to meet the level of buzz and delicious flavor that my heart had once known. It’s beat was never quite as rapid, never as forced to the breaking point as smoothly as it had been in the past.

    Then Jason introduced me to the Affectionate Communist. Loosely known as the Cubano, it has become my staple at Crooked Tree, and my search is over.

  9. July 16, 2009 at 11:16 am

    One day when I was 4 years old, I wanted to try the beverage that my grandparents would partake in every morning. My grandma poured me a little mug with sugar and milk, stirred away…

    And Ive loved it ever since.

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