Coffee and the days of BBSing


The above title is misleading. It is misleading because while I was around during the days of the old dial-up Bulletin Board Systems, I never ran one or really had an interest in computing. I more just lived “through the times” and the era of modems, baud connections and AOL CDs, when in an effort to kill boredom, my friends and I would frequent BBSs. On BBSs we would sometimes play door games, sometimes download a porn picture line by pixel-loading-line, sometimes troll, and sometimes connect with other people in an attempt to feel a little less isolated in our adolescence. BBSs were a way to participate with a world that reached beyond the suburbs.

I got into coffee a little later than BBSs, probably sometime in high school due to the fact that my peer group did not have ready access to booze or weed, or seem to be interested in those things. So we drank coffee and hung out at diners. As the years went on, I did develop a taste for coffee, though perhaps not the palate of a world-class barista. These days I primarily use a French press, and then reheat my later mugs. I have found this to be a more acceptable solution to drip coffee, which no matter how good the drip coffee maker, at some point creates burned coffee reminiscent of 7 Eleven. Additionally, the tubes in drip coffee machines have a tendency to get gunked up with mineral deposits and who knows what other things that thrive and spawn in dampness. For my money, a French press makes even a mug of Maxwell House taste like something I paid $2.50 for, and sometimes better than that same $2.50 cup of coffee. Case in point, I am drinking one of those purchased cups now, a cup of medium roast Ethiopian that the server said had a “mild evanescent taste.” Call me a cynic, but my guess is that her manager told her to use the word “evanescent” when describing the taste, because it sounded smart. But the coffee does not have an evanescent taste at all, it has a lingering taste, and I like my French pressed cheap-o coffee better. But I do understand that these places are trying to make a living and have to market their products.

Marketing is probably also at the root of why this same coffee shop had large metal letters spelling out “COFFEE HOUSE” across an entire wall. Seems like a bold statement, but maybe it is a literal and figurative sign of the times. When you walk into a coffee shop the best way to know you have arrived is to be smacked across the face with a 20-foot wall decoration that says so, because let’s face it, people really do not pay attention like they used too.

Lately, you see, I have been reflecting on the days of the BBS, and that time when the world was all a little smaller, a place we were all forced to live in a bit more and pay attention to a little closer in an effort to touch something beyond us. Now things are reversed, the world is everywhere and it is ourselves and our immediate surroundings we have forgotten. While we sit under gargantuan signs stating where we are, we absurdly hunt for ourselves in the glows of our phones and touchable pads, only catching fragmented glimpses of who we were. Everything is everywhere and we are nowhere.

What I think I am trying to say is that I need to drink more coffee.

5 thoughts on “Coffee and the days of BBSing

  1. I am going to ignore all the philosophical aspects of this post and address the coffee bit. Actually, I’m not even going to address coffee except to say that it must be much different than tea. As I understand coffee, there are different types of beans, but it’s variants of the same plant. You take the same part of the bean, roast it in a variety of ways, and brew it in a variety of ways. We’ll ignore any additive flavors. So I would think that even ‘bad’ coffee, roasted and brewed in an acceptible manner, should taste ok.

    Tea is a little different. I’m going to ignore herbal teas here as well. There is an analogous process to roasting that gives rise to different types of tea (black, green, white, etc.). These have a pretty large effect on flavor, much like a dark roast coffee is a lot different than a light roast. However, better grades of tea actually use different ‘selections’ of the tea leaf. Better stuff has better leaves and buds, the smaller ones being better I think.

    All this is a round about way of saying that Lipton’s tea is fucking horrible. It’s tea dust. It’s the crap left over after all the other grades of full leaf tea have been selected out. It’s like trying to build a house out of wood chips instead of lumber. And no, I don’t mean plywood. I mean wood chips.

  2. Great first-dive treatment on the subject, BSing about BBSing! I especially liked the bit about “i more just ‘lived thru the times’ ” — so true!

  3. “I need to drink more coffee.”

    Mike, this statement is untrue for you more than anyone else I know.

  4. Man, so much history and lore surrounding the old days at nine buckhaven ct. i can almost taste the old bay seasoning from the crab legs at the annual kilbirnie crab feast –

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