DAVE BARRY ON COFFEE
 
 I have exciting news for anybody who would like to pay a lot of money
 for coffee that has passed all the way through an animal's digestive tract.
 And you just know there are plenty of people who would. Specialty
 coffees are very popular these days, attracting millions of consumers,
 every single one of whom is standing in line ahead of me whenever I go
 to the coffee place at the airport to grab a quick cup on my way to
 catch a plane. These consumers are always ordering mutant beverages
 with names like "mocha-almond-honey-vinaigrette lattespressacino,"
 beverages that must be made one at a time via a lengthy and complex
 process involving approximately one coffee bean, three quarts of dairy
 products and what appears to be a small nuclear reactor.
 Meanwhile, back in the line, there is growing impatience among those
 of us who just want a plain old cup of coffee so that our brains will
 start working and we can remember what our full names are and why we
 are catching an airplane.
 We want to strike the lattespressacino people with our carry-on
 baggage and scream, "GET OUT OF OUR WAY, YOU TREND GEEKS, AND LET US
 HAVE OUR COFFEE!" But of course we couldn't do anything that active
 until we've had our coffee.
 It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine
 medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently
 view it as some kind of recreational activity. I bet this kind of
 thing does not happen to heroin addicts. I bet that when serious
 heroin addicts go to purchase their heroin, they do not tolerate
 waiting in line while some dilettante in front of them orders a
 hazelnut smack-a-cino with cinnamon sprinkles.
 The reason some of us need coffee is that it contains caffeine, which
 makes us alert. Of course it is very important to remember that
 caffeine is a drug, and, like any drug, it is a lot of fun.
 No! Wait! What I meant to say is: Like any drug, caffeine can have
 serious side effects if we ingest too much. This fact was first
 noticed in ancient Egypt when a group of workers, who were supposed to
 be making a birdbath, began drinking Egyptian coffee, which is very
 strong, and wound up constructing the Pyramids.
 I myself developed the coffee habit in my early twenties, when, as a
 "cub" reporter for the Daily Local News in West Chester, Pa., I had to
 stay awake while writing phenomenally boring stories about municipal
 government. I got my coffee from a vending machine that also sold hot
 chocolate and chicken noodle soup; all three liquids squirted out of a
 single tube, and they tasted pretty much the same. But I came to need
 that coffee, and even today I can do nothing useful before I've had
 several cups. (I can't do anything useful afterward, either; that's
 why I'm a columnist.)
 But here's my point: This specialty-coffee craze has gone too far. I
 say this in light of a letter I got recently from alert reader Bo
 Bishop. He sent me an invitation he received from a local company to a
 "private tasting of the highly prized Luwak coffee," which "at $300 a
 pound . . . is one of the most expensive drinks in the world." The
 invitation states that this coffee is named for the luwak, a "member
 of the weasel family" that lives on the island of Java and eats coffee
 berries; as the berries pass through the luwak, a "natural
 fermentation" takes place, and the berry seeds -- the coffee beans --
 come out of the luwak intact. The beans are then gathered, washed,
 roasted and sold to coffee connoisseurs.
 The invitation states: "We wish to pass along this once in a lifetime
 opportunity to taste such a rarity."
 Or, as Bo Bishop put it: "They're selling processed weasel doodoo for
 $300 a pound."
 I first thought this was a clever hoax designed to ridicule the coffee
 craze.
 Tragically, it is not. There really is a Luwak coffee. I know because
 I bought some from a specialty-coffee company in Atlanta. I paid
 $37.50 for two ounces of beans. I was expecting the beans to look
 exotic, considering where they'd been, but they looked like regular
 coffee beans. In fact, for a moment I was afraid that they were just
 regular beans, and that I was being ripped off.
 Then I thought: What kind of world is this when you worry that people
 might be ripping you off by selling you coffee that was NOT pooped out
 by a weasel?
 So anyway, I ground the beans up and brewed the coffee and drank some.
 You know how sometimes, when you're really skeptical about something,
 but then you finally try it, you discover that it's really good, way
 better than you would have thought possible? This is not the case with
 Luwak coffee. Luwak coffee, in my opinion, tastes like somebody washed
 a dead cat in it.
 But I predict it's going to be popular anyway, because it's expensive.
 One of these days, the people in front of me at the airport coffee
 place are going to be ordering decaf poopacino. I'm thinking of
 switching to heroin.