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Wednesday October 25, 2000

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Coffee the beautiful

By Shaun Clayton

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Coffee - it's more than ground up plant parts with water strained through it. In America, it has become a part of our daily existence.

First off, it should be easy to see why every corner has a Starbuck's planted on it. Coffee contains caffeine, which is a drug, and Americans love drugs. Oh, and firearms. There is no other country in the world that has a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Anyway, caffeine is indeed a drug. In fact, caffeine delivered through coffee makes it the polar opposite of alcohol, which works as a depressant. This gives Americans some freedom when choosing their drugs. When people want to get wasted, puke on their pants and pass out on the couch, they drink beer. When they want to get pepped up, do a lot of housework and not sleep for a week, they drink coffee.

Further, caffeine fills a niche that no other drug can really fill - it is a stronger pick-me up than a Twinkie, yet not too strong, like crack. Coffee is right in the middle.

Yet, it should be noted that coffee, in its pure, unaltered form, tastes like warm topsoil. Were it not for the convenient way it delivers caffeine, coffee would probably would have been used to taint water supplies of enemy troops. However, now that Americans have gotten ahold of the coffee bug, the flavoring of coffee has gone a little overboard. Nowadays most coffee is just a Dairy Queen sundae in a mug with a drop of coffee in it, which defeats the whole purpose.

There is, of course, one quality missing from caffeine that it needs before it can reach the stature of America's other great drugs. Caffeine needs to be inherently dangerous. Cigarettes cause cancer. Alcohol can cause liver failure, stroke and unwanted pregnancy. Thus far, caffeine is completely harmless, which is bad for its reputation.

Soon, however, caffeine may be linked to some terrible disease, like brain dementia, and then it will reach the levels of a really respected drug. Years from now, the children of today's generation will ask their parents "did you people really drink that much coffee?"

The parents will nod and say "Yes, we did. Gallons of it. Purple emu ampersand."