The only good coffee is bad coffee

In a recent version of her excellent newsletter Griefbacon (which is the literal translation of a German term for eating because you’re sad), Helena Fitzgerald writes about her favourite kinds of terrible coffee, including:

“Gas Station Coffee: You’re driving somewhere you’ve never been before. The country is so much larger than anything should be. No matter how many times you think how is there this much of it, how is there still so much of it, there is always more, a room further inside the house, opening into other rooms. Highways spool out like the surface of an unknown planet. It’s lonely but most things are lonely; that’s why it matters so much when anything doesn’t feel lonely, even for five minutes. It’s lonely, but a lot of us like being lonely a lot more than we think we do.

You’re going to meet someone’s parents. You’re going somewhere for Thanksgiving; you have homemade food in the back of the car in big dishes covered over with foil. You’re going to see the friend who moved out of the city. It’s not all that far away but it’s more fun to pretend that it is. You’re going to someone’s wedding; a dry cleaning bag is hanging off that uncertain hook in the backseat like a ghostly passenger. You’re holding a cup of gas station coffee. It’s maybe the worst coffee you’ve ever had. It’s maybe the worst coffee anyone’s ever had.

You stopped at a gas station because you needed gas or because you needed to pee. You got out of the car and the air smelled just slightly wild, in that way the air near a gas station always does. You went inside and bought a coffee and the coffee came in one of the those horrible hyper-insulated styrofoam cups with the treacherous little flip-top tab. You took it back to the car and took a sip and burned your tongue and then you drove away. Or, really, someone else drove away. Gas station coffee is the glory of the passenger seat, the dissociative blur of houses and highway, the crackle of untrustworthy radio stations, every conversation interrupted at its crisis point or punchline by the google maps lady’s polite warnings.”

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