I am a caffeine addict and a coffee snob, and I readily admit it. This is evidenced by the fact that I buy expensive, gourmet coffee – both at home and on the road – and carry with me in my book bag a very nice ceramic coffee mug. The reason: I refuse to drink this ambrosial elixir in either a paper or – heaven forbid – a Styrofoam cup.

Life is simply too short to drink bad coffee, or to drink good coffee in a bad cup. And this is the crux of my dilemma – coffee cup snobbery.

You see, the best coffee mug I have ever found, with a perfect shape, weight and handle, is a mug I bought for $5 in Dunkin’ Donuts. Now, DD makes a decent brew, especially its dark roast. Not gourmet coffee, mind you, but decidedly drinkable. Especially if you’re pairing it with a couple of chocolate-frosted doughnuts. But their coffee mug is a superb piece of industrial design. Good enough for me to carry around for my afternoon forays to other, higher-end coffee-serving establishments.

But here’s the problem: I walk into a fancy, high-priced coffee shop, more than happy to pay their inflated prices for a simple cup of joe, and the counter staff – and sometimes even the establishment’s owner – is aghast when I ask them to fill my DD-logoed cup with their roasted-on-the premises, fastidiously prepared precious liquid.

“How dare I!” their astonished, taken-aback, offended looks tell me. A typical barista response is: “Can I wash this out for you?” (Even though my DD mug is perfectly clean, as if washing it would cleanse it of its innate inferiority.) Or sometimes: “You know, we do sell our own coffee mugs.” Now,, I would be perfectly happy to buy one of these fussy establishment’s overpriced coffee mugs, but I have yet to find one that compares favorably to my cheap DD mug.

Good is good, and there’s no denying quality. These upscale establishments make fine coffee, which I love, but they typically sell crappy coffee mugs: too big, too small, unbalanced, lousy logos, cheesy colors, uncomfortable handles. On the other hand, my DD coffee mug is a perfect object, comparable to a Grecian urn. Exactly the right shape, proportion, weight and color. A functional masterpiece.

While no one has yet refused me coffee service, I have gotten my share of stink-eyes, harrumphs and eye rolls. They are letting me know that I am a proletarian trespassing in their bourgeois establishment, although my money is green and I made a conscious choice to pay their haute-café prices for a small pleasure and a satisfying buzz.

My daily routine is to read a good book and drink good coffee in the late afternoon. It is one of the joys of retirement, and I treasure it. A good cup of coffee helps me focus and enhances the reading experience.

Next time, I’ll bring a Mason jar and tell them, politely, “Fill the damn thing up.”


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