Coffee in the Green Mountains

coffee“The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup.” And “Maxwell House is, Maxwell House is, good to the last drop, Maxwell House.”

Go ahead and sing along. I know you know them; you know you know them. These coffee jingles were all over television and radio. If you are of a certain age you might even remember the taste and texture of these iconic brews. But how did we get from Folgers to the Venti Half-Soy Nonfat Decaf Organic Double-Shot Extra Hot With Foam? How, if we were raised on instant coffee, could we even conceive of making that leap?

Loving coffee is a serious business. Coffee lovers have their favorite blends, their unique coffee mugs, their circadian rituals. These lovers know few occasions without their sacred brew. An impromptu camping trip, or overnight on the boat, might give rise to such an occasion. Forgotten filters or French press could lead you to that forsaken land of instant coffee crystals. Camp store and marina shelves are filled with such food staples of yesteryear.

What could cause the American palate (psyche?) to abandon such comfort for the intimidating espresso or the half-caf-half-decaf-extra-hot? Community! As it turns out, our need for community trumps even our need to cling to the comforting flavors of our youth.

Our coffee shops and coffee houses are not unlike the ancient tea houses along the Silk Road. This is the place where we stop to chat, find community, and get our bearings. Though today our coffee shops are more likely to be about headphones, laptops and solitude, they are still the place where we find connection—to our favorite barista, to our favorite table, favorite time of day. Even if we don’t recognize the person at the next table, our concern/obsession with the source of the bean and its growers makes us feel connected to a bigger community of bean believers.

Addison County has not been left out of the coffee buzz. And while Starbucks products are ubiquitous in the civilized world, we don’t have a shop in Middlebury or Bristol. Both towns have plenty of coffee shops, which may have enticing shopfronts from, though and even a few artisan coffee roasters: Awake Organic Coffee Roasters and Vermont Coffee Company top the list. These two roasters toast up some flavors that put the rich back into ritual. Thank heaven for Vermont Coffee Company’s dark roast.

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