As a writer, there are many online resources that I visit when I am looking for some inspiration or advice, or to see what writing prompts other people are contemplating. One such site is the Poets and Writers online magazine where today, they recommended writing an essay suggesting an official drink for your state or voicing your (dis)approval of the drink that has already been accepted by many as its official beverage. Here’s mine.
In New Hampshire the official drink is apple cider, which makes sense because we equate the late September activity of apple picking with the fall-foliage, leaf-strewn ranges of New England. Florida announced its official drink is orange juice which, if they didn’t, would just be bad business for one of the most recognizable exports of the state. If Floridians weren’t drinking their own product, why should I buy it, is the question I would ask.
New York, however, apparently named milk as its beverage of choice. Now despite the fact that there are many dairy farms upstate, that pastoral lifestyle is not what New York is known for and despite my adopting many aspects of New York’s culture, I am not a big milk consumer. In fact, for many years, I have tipped some half-and-half in my cup when I’m at Starbucks but I rarely buy a quart or a gallon of milk to keep in my fridge. Many of the people I know don’t drink milk anymore either, due to lactose intolerance or vegan leanings or the belief that mammary secretions were intended to sustain the infant of that species, not for casual human adult consumption. Either that or they just prefer to lick at a wine stain instead of a milk mustache after dinner.
So it begs the question. Who are all these people drinking milk to justify calling it the official drink of the state? If you had to guess, would you have believed New York had chosen milk as their official glass filler? And if not milk, what would be your guess?
Me? I would have thought it’d be coffee. What could be more New York than a cup of coffee? I know we didn’t invent Starbucks but I think the city has more of the coffee shops than Baldwin, Zeigl and Bowker (Starbucks founders) ever envisioned back in their Seattle headquarters. One of the most popular New York sitcoms has been Friends which, although it was filmed in California, featured a group of twenty-somethings hanging out in Central Perk. Even if you’re one of the few people who’ve never watched the show, you would still be able to guess Central Perk is a coffee shop.
Even the people who don’t drink coffee use it in conversation. Let’s have coffee, means lets’s meet up for a short catch-up session; this meeting will be short enough for us to chat about one or two topics, maybe even take a selfie, posed with whatever drinks we’ve chosen so we have something to do with our hands, but we won’t linger long enough to share a meal where we might have to figure out how to split the check.
Coffee can be cheap. A small cup of coffee from the deli can cost as little as a dollar and you can even show up to the “lets have coffee” date with it already in hand. Talk about a cheap date. Coffee can also be expensive so the logo on the cup you’re carrying could indicate that you’ve spent upwards of five bucks on your drink. That kind of posing is outside my norm so I wouldn’t even recognize those branded cups. But they do exist.
At work, the coffee break is the fifteen minute allowance your company expects you to take mid morning or mid-afternoon. Recently, companies stopped giving a lunch hour and started giving a lunch break. The abbreviated lunch time you have now is probably the result of the company acknowledging that more frequent breaks are the norm. Work through the break and you’ll be robbing yourself of well-earned downtime. Office relationships are built and strengthened around the shared coffee break – you can meet up by the coffee pot and while you’re waiting for the brew, you can spend a few minutes talking about last night’s game or the cute thing your kid did recently, or gossip about a fellow coworker. The coffee break is the time to do it. Drinking said coffee afterwards is completely optional.
A cup of coffee held in your hand can function as a hand warmer during the frigid winter months. Iced coffee has the opposite effect during the humid summer weeks – no matter how you wish otherwise, it’s just a fact that summer is way shorter than winter in this part of the world.
There are even studies being published almost daily which suggest that drinking a cup of coffee each day helps reduce the risk of heart and liver disease. In the health-obsessed culture of New York, that’s just one more reason to go for a cup of joe.
Coffee is universally known for being a stimulant, a must-have for people who live in the city that never sleeps. I mean, if you aren’t going to sleep, you’ll need something to help you stay up.
Milk might sound like the healthier choice. After all, most of us drank it exclusively when we were children. But when it comes to options, you’re limited to chocolate milk or plain milk. Coffee on the other hand, can be full-caf or decaf, light or dark roast or something in between and flavored according to where the beans were sourced and how long they have been roasted. The veritable range of options keeps baristas employed and creates more options that even then won’t satisfy the not-a-morning-person, unable-to-be-satisfied New Yorker who after spending five minutes just explaining her low calorie coffee order, will still not drink more than a sip of it before she dunks the cup unceremoniously into the nearest trash can.
New York city living suggests that coffee should be the official state drink. Milk doesn’t make the grade.
Now, this whole argument might sound funny coming from me. After all, I’m not a coffee drinker myself. But this isn’t about me. This is about New York choosing milk as the official state beverage, instead of the clear choice, coffee, and I can’t say that I understand why. As a status symbol, a drink you can personalize and add to in order to match your tastebuds, budget and calorie requirements, coffee obviously wins.