Taking an early morning flight means rising at 4am, minimum. At that unholy hour, sleep deprivation combined with airport lighting awakens a caffeine craving that rivals the walking dead’s appetite for human flesh. While airport coffee isn’t the most finely crafted drop it still satisfies a fundamental human requirement. We need it.
Every time I arrive back in Melbourne after a morning flight I inevitably find myself in one of the many shrines to caffeine snobbery that occupy the city’s graffiti lanes and old warehouses. Waiting for my order, I always look around and wonder what the fixed-wheel bicycle riding hipsters that surround me would make of the takeaway coffee I ordered from the Dreamy Donuts near Gate 23 just hours before.
I’m sure that the discussion about whether to order or not would raise any number of interesting questions. Where does International Roast actually fit in the single-origin versus boutique blend argument? Is coffee with milk superior to an extra strong decaf soy latte with a shot of vanilla? Does ordering black coffee rather than a Long Black undermine the cred established by skinny jeans an asymmetrical haircut? Is coffee that tastes like twice-burnt monkey excrement filtered through used dishwater actually any different to Kopi luwak? Would a single sip of airport coffee render someone completely incapable of riding a gearless bicycle? (I think we all know the answer to that question is a definite yes.)
Don’t get me wrong, I like good coffee but I am also more than willing to drink shit coffee. Perhaps that is where I’m going wrong. Maybe I if swapped my taste for cheap burnt coffee for tribal ink, highly sculpted facial hair and body piercings, I’d finally discover that ‘track suit pants are not welcome here’ attitude that everybody seems so keen on. I could do that but where would it leave me the next time me and my clapped out tracksuit pants stand in the harsh fluorescent glow of the domestic terminal at 5am? Tired and caffeine deficient. That’s where. Nobody wants that, least of all me.