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The Coffee Essay

April 24, 2013   

Tonight I must finish writing an essay about brewing coffee.  I began my research almost a week ago and since then worked in bits and pieces, slowly adding to the word count.  I have one paragraph left to write and the essay is still not due for a few days—no late nights in this case.  But this last concluding passage is proving to be difficult.  I am trying to find the crux of my argument, the great lesson that this small, three-page paper teaches about coffee.  How do I find the profound meaning of a seemingly mundane beverage?

My research and preparation for this paper was quite meticulous.  As it turns out, The New Yorker and The New York Times both have large stores of articles about coffee.  I learned that a coffee’s taste changes from one cup to the next, depending on a myriad of variables in the brewing process.  For example, if the water is too hot, an acidic oil will seep from the ground beans, causing a scorched flavor.  I also learned that if an espresso machine uses excessive pressure, the coffee will be too strong—creating a harsh taste that drowns out the subtler flavors in the beans.

But where does all this information lead me?  How do I finish this essay?  I have always been an avid coffee drinker, so my inconclusiveness is particularly frustrating.  I found there is a difference between knowing how something tastes and knowing the science behind that flavor. 

Perhaps this is the conclusion of my essay: coffee is a beverage with personality and individuality.  I can take a cup in the morning for granted, but the flavor of that cup is unique, influenced by a number of factors outside of my control.  This seemingly simple beverage is a delicate balance of chemistry, physics and engineering.