Pulse Rate

The cover of the Metro Pulse grabbed my attention with the title “Revenge of the (Coffee) Nerds.” Like the author, I am not a coffee snob. I happily drink the free coffee at work. I think inexpensive coffee at convenience stores is delicious, especially the Dark Roast at Pilot and the Kona blend at Weigel’s. After church on Sundays, my wife and I like to go to Starbucks, where I take advantage of free refills offered to cardholders. The Metro Pulse writer describes Starbucks coffee as “mediocre.”

The article points out that Knoxville has several local coffee roasters. Over the summer, I visited the Vienna Coffee Company in Maryville. Roastmaster John Clark showed me around the roasting facility and treated me to a “cupping,” which is like a wine-tasting for coffee. He used the Hario drip method, as shown in the Metro Pulse. The more exotic beans were fine but I preferred their best-selling Front Porch Breakfast Blend.

I recently saw one of the guys from jAVERDE Coffee Company while shopping at the Food City across the street. When he said “long time no see,” I explained that I would come to their shop more often if they were open on Sundays. I like jAVERDE’s Shell Shock flavor and recently finished off a bag of it at home. They are very active on Twitter where they sometimes refer to the Seattle behemoth as “charbucks.”

John Clark told me that the charred flavor is a west coast thing. I had to agree after my trip to Seattle this summer, where I discovered the “red eye” or “black eye” or “shot in the dark,” depending on where I was buying my drink. When I do go to Starbucks, I choose their seasonal blend and I like the charred taste.

My post-church routine might be very different if not for Pope Clement VIII. The article taught me something about my own religion:

Coffee first became a popular beverage in Yemen. In the 1400s, coffee shops spread throughout the Arab world as an alternative to taverns (since Islam prohibits alcohol consumption). According to Tom Standage’s book, A History of the World in Six Glasses, the beverage was mostly viewed with suspicion in Europe until Pope Clement VIII tasted it in 1605.


“Coffee’s religious opponents argued that coffee was evil: They contended that since Muslims were unable to drink wine, the holy drink of Christians, the devil had punished them with coffee,” Standage writes. “Clement decided to taste the new drink before making his decision. … He was so enchanted by its taste and aroma that he approved its consumption by Christians.”

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