I think that coffee is already a flavor that needs no changing or improving. It doesn’t need any pumpkin or spice, no caramel or cinnamon, no vanilla or hazel nut. There is no reason anyone needs a quadruple trifecta macchiato with extra cinammon, caramel, and whipped cream with sprinkles. Perhaps a little milk, maybe a little sugar to bring up the flavors, but I don’t need other flavors to make my coffee experience a good one. This time of year, when it’s still hot, I like my coffee cold and bitter like a nasty January day on the Midwestern plains. Some folks like to dress up their coffee with strange Italian syrups, mountains of whipped cream, extra sprinkles, but isn’t that like putting a sweater on a dog? Dogs already come with the sweater attached last time I checked. All I want is a couple of shots of espresso and a little peace and quiet–maybe a quiet conversation with some friends, maybe a rowdy discussion of manners by Minnesotans. I think those ladies in the basement of the Lutheran church in which I grew up knew something about black bitter coffee as they continually brewed a pot to be served with the doughnuts on Sunday morning. Those wise women knew that coffee was a flavor all by itself and needed no improvement or variations. They often scoffed if you put cream in your cup, or at least looked on in disapproval. Coffee is simple, so why do we insist on screwing it up? Coffee, for better or worse, is an experience unto itself, love it or hate it. So the next time you go for coffee, think about how you can simplify your order. Think about coffee as if it were a metaphor for the life well-lived, simple, strong, and uncomplicated.