Lots of things in life that don’t have warning labels probably should: cars and the people who drive them, cheeseburgers, the internet, relationships.
Coffee is not one of those things. In the wide range of vices available to us, coffee is close to the happy-and-harmless end of the spectrum.
Nonetheless, coffee, as always, is in the news. I think it’s a conspiracy. It didn’t rain, or the little bushes froze, or something. The crop was bad, so prices are up. The stuff is bad for you anyway, Wait, no, it’s secretly the key to living to 110. Whatever.
It’s a different headline every week, and did anything more readily lend itself to clickbait? In the secret counsels of the coffee collective, a marketing manager smiles, knowing that top-of-mind awareness matters more than all else.
Then comes California. Stay with me. Let’s not just dismiss this with the cliches about Left Coast goofballs.
California passed a silly law. Again, holding to cliches, we could play this two ways. One, California passes the stuff that the rest of us get around to 20 years later and 20 years after that recognize as progress that came way too late. There’s a measure of truth in that.
The other is to fall back on the idea that it’s California and therefore bonkers. That’s as may be, but that state can take a number and get in line with the rest of us. Many states pass laws that are silly, stupid or just plain mean. Ours is no exception.
But silliness got codified in Sacramento with the idea that coffee – specifically the means of roasting – is a threat to human health. By most accounts, this is based in a faulty reading of the science. But it’s the law, and now a judge hath decreed that coffee needs a warning label.
Let me try to explain this. I don’t smoke or touch drugs, and my consumption of alcohol extends little beyond a thimbleful of wine at the communion rail on Sunday morning. Like most of us, I work too much and play too little. The world has too many compromises and too little laughter. Life is not exactly “nasty, brutish and short,” as Hobbes warned us centuries ago, but it’s not far from that either.
So a cup of coffee and the morning papers are my main means of supporting the illusion that I’m clinging to a civilized life. Plus I could use the caffeine.
As I write, I’m sitting in the coffee shop on the Square. It’s rainy and gray outside, but inside there’s Wi-Fi, good music and a moment of respite. A lot of days, that’s as much as you’re going to get.
Trans fats needed warning labels and then needed to go. I get that. And cigarettes? Good Lord, why are those even still around, and why are we branching out into legal pot? But coffee? I’m keeping that. I’m not a prepper or an apocalista, but it might be time to start stockpiling good arabica beans.
– Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at 816-350-6313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.