Cold Brew by Christina Lopez

Whatever the weather – be it brisk, chilly, near freezing, amidst a hailstorm or walking in a flurry of snow – Joanne only drinks iced coffee. She likes the feel of the ice, how it numbs her tongue and leaves a slightly metallic aftertaste, and the crunch that resonates throughout her head when she bites down on each frozen crystalline structure. The coffee, dark roast only of course, seems secondary to the ice even though she insists it be “cold brew”. Joanne is not aware in any way that cold brew differs from cold coffee. She believes the two to be synonymous, and prepares her daily cup in accordance with her ignorance.

Discount grounds are poured unceremoniously into the bleached-white filter of an automatic percolator. Water, straight from the tap, worms its way around each granular of grated bean, forcing the release of chemicals both intended and unintended by their mother plants and the warm earth they once stretched from. The resulting liquid has the distinction of being both dark and translucent. This process is done in the evening, so Joanne can set the carafe in the fridge overnight to chill. The next morning, into a 20oz mason jar partially filled with ice, she combines this “cold brew” with two heaping tablespoons of refined sugar and a generous splash of non-fat milk. Then she closes the jar tight and gives it a shake. The sugar immediately settles to the bottom and never completely dissolves. The jar stays shut throughout her half hour commute, so by the time she arrives at the office the ice is partially melted and ready to be crunched.

I prefer to take my coffee at home, allowing myself a moment of peace before embarking into the world. If, for some reason, I am unable to slowly and intentionally sip my black, medium-roast, fair-trade, organic, single origin, shade-grown coffee in the comfort of my own home, I am sure it only ever makes contact with the inside of a double-walled vessel crafted specifically to deter heat loss.

We were the first to arrive for the weekly meeting, taking seats on opposite ends of the conference table on that cool autumn morning in November. Joanne crunched her ice and raised an eyebrow, judging me as I took a sip of my coffee.

“I tried hot coffee once.” She said. “Once.”

And that, your Honor, is why I attacked my co-worker.