Cup of Coffee

Shaw's Coffee, 5147 Shaw Avenue, 314-771-6920

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Raise a glass to the Cup of Coffee, the engine of industry, the most delicious and gratifying of the minor, reasonably harmless addictions, a feisty little pecker of a pleasure that feels so good on so many levels both physical and psychic -- hits your taste and idea buds, you with a brain that's as sexy as your hot hot booty.

Coffee, a neural booster best enjoyed at this time of the year, at the dawn of Hot Fluids Season. On this day, the sky is dribbling the first snowflakes of the season, welcome ones, maybe a few hundred thousand total on the Hill, doomed flakes that never stood a chance against the warm, unforgiving dirt but made the plunge nonetheless. Raise a glass to futility, to melting away as you hit the ground, to early winter. And this is going to be a hell of a season; you see it in the bushy squirrel tails, and witness it in the handiwork of spiders, all googly-eyed, spinning webs counterclockwise, leading with their lefts, an almanac-authenticated indication that the winter's going to be hard. Your bones are feeling it, too.

So then, coffee. Say it aloud. Coffee. "I'll have a cup of coffee, please." Whisper it: "coffee." It's a beautiful word, both out of the mouth and on the page, what with the middle double f and the ending double e. Best taken with a little dairy, straight cream being one of the most exquisite treats you can offer yourself. Whole milk is acceptable. And actually, soy milk's good in it, too. Skim milk is a useless concession, but better than non-dairy creamer, which, you need to be reminded, is very very flammable, so be careful and why would you put that into your system? May as well just bite the bullet, forgo the brown-to-beige mixer altogether, and go without. Drink your black coffee, stare at the walls. Sugar? Sure. But some suggest that sweetened infusion sullies the solution, and we tend to agree.

At Shaw's, located next to Viviano's on the Hill, they roast on-premises, and they cook a mean bean, and use a lot of it in each cup. Unlike some skimpy houses that churn out javawater, Shaw's juice is juicy, and if you get there early, you can grab the table in the bank vault -- within, one table, three chairs -- at the rear of their new addition, a former bank, an expansion decades in the making (so it seemed, anyway), with space galore, a nice sound system usually offering really good music, and lots of comfy cushions and tables.

The thing about coffee is, it can give you the shakes, which is always a bit disconcerting. So always start the day with a banana, berry, juice and yogurt smoothie, which will give you a boost and a belly buffer against the brown acid coming down. Of course, you could also go the opposite route, leap without a parachute. One of the best parts about that is the feeling of manic panic as you get jittery and juiced up, nervous, giddy in a funny, half-nauseated way, loose but tight, and the more you drink, the crazier you feel and you start thinking blah blah blah dreck, feeling like Bart and Milhouse with an all-syrup Squishy. Go go go. Caffeine rules. But remember, minus a parachute, you'll hit the ground hard, and maybe even melt away. Winter is upon us. Baby-blue bulbs fill front yards from Wildwood to Baden and beyond. Take care, little snowflake.

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