24 April 2013

World's Best Cup of Coffee

World's Best Cup of Rooibos Tea
I heard on the radio this morning that a barrista from Toronto is going to be representing Canada in the "World's Best Cup of Coffee" contest in Australia. Well, congratulations, Josh Whatever-your-name-is. I sincerely hope you have a marvellous time in Oz, whether you win or not.

But it got me to thinking: how silly is that? World's best cup of coffee? What a strange society we live in. Everything we do, everything that exists, must be graded on a scale from bad to good, with one item, and one only, at the very apex as "world's best". One "best cup of coffee". We set up committees (lots of doubled letters in that word. Almost like Mississippi. World's most-overloaded-with-double-letters word?) to determine just which cup of coffee is THE best - the BEST! - which means we have to determine who is the best coffee taster in the world - because obviously, only the best coffee taster can determine the best cup of coffee. So now we have the apex of the human pyramid, with ultra-coffee-taster at the very top, far above the dull and witless masses who are only able to enjoy their ordinary, un-best, dull and witless coffee (by the potful, no less), not comprehending the quality, the sheer superiority of the Best Cup of Coffee (note caps).

But, wait - the witless masses enjoy their coffee. That first sip from your favourite mug, poured from a freshly brewed pot of the roast you like best, on a morning when you're still half asleep, but the birds are chirping outside in the sunshine because spring has finally arrived - I defy any barrista, even the national coffee-making champion, to brew a cup to match that bliss. Okay, I'm talking just a little bit through my hat here (or through my teacup, as it were) - I don't drink coffee, never have. So the "you" in that preceding sentence is intentional - it's your first sip of coffee, not mine. Mine's the sip of tea, of which I consume gallons (being a confirmed teaist). But the principle is the same.

Because, you see - there is no "world's best cup of coffee", at least not one that everyone, everywhere will agree on. World's best cup of coffee was not, as my favourite radio show host would have it, brewed yesterday in Toronto, and it won't be brewed sometime next week (or whenever that contest is held) in Australia. World's best cup of coffee, if you're lucky, will be brewed in your coffeemaker, by you, maybe even today. And again tomorrow. And the day after that. Or maybe your husband will brew it for you. Now that would take it right over the top. A blissful hot drink, served to you by the person you love best - it doesn't get better than that.

Sorry, champion barrista - I'm sure you make an amazingly good cup of coffee (at least good for those who like coffee). But it's not the world's best. It can't be. Because the best cup of coffee is the one right here, right now. As is the best cup of tea, the best piece of cake, the best bout of lovemaking. There is no apex to the pyramid, because it's not a pyramid. It's about the here and now. Best is what I have today. And perhaps tomorrow, or the day after. Best is mine.

Life, the Universe, and World's Best Cup of Coffee. Pass the tea, please.


  1. Hm, now you've got me thinking I need to switch out my usual tea for coffee this morning.

    My parents always taught us that the only "best" that mattered was the best WE could be - because even if you beat everyone else in the world at whatever-it-is today, tomorrow someone else will come along and be better. Even Olympic champions only get to wear that "best" crown for four years (or eight, if they're very dedicated), and then someone else comes along and is the "new best." Even Michael Phelps has been defeated once or twice!

    So yes, the only "best" that has any meaning - if it has meaning at all, which I'm not sure it does - is the one measured against yourself. And the level of satisfaction one gets from what one does, and does well, is the most accurate measuring stick for "best" I can imagine.

  2. That's okay, I'd stick with the tea if I were you (we could go into another discussion of which hot beverage is "best", but we'll leave that for another day. Suffice to say that tea would win hands-down.).

    As you say, there's always someone else's "best". Or another day's "best". Especially with things that are repeated over and over, like hot drinks.

  3. I couldn't agree more! My coffee is the best - for me.

  4. Yup. We do this bizarre thing, as a society, where we create competitive categories and them shoehorn each other into them for reasons COMPLETELY unrelated to happiness. I don't get it. I DO however, love my ancient, groaning Keurig and my freshly ground Kick Ass from the Kicking Horse Coffee Company. Now, that's a cup of coffee!! *swoons*

    1. Exactly. And for some reason, we make *everything* competitive, even the things that aren't comparable. Sure, there's such a thing as world's highest mountain - it's always there, it's not going to get shorter or taller. Superlatives do exist. But not on things like coffee. Or love. :)