A Cup Of Coffee

31 August 2002

by Andrew Tobias
I had a cup of coffee. Black. Nothing fancy.Not bad. Of course, to make the coffee I had to get some water from the tap. And for that, water had to get to the tap…

I would like to see someone write a book called, quite simply, A Cup of Coffee. It would have a chapter on everything involved or at least as many as could fit (decaffeination? color printing on the sides of coffee cans?). And it would be written for a broad audience who of us is not intrigued by how the world works? but especially for high school kids. And there would be two points to it. One would be to teach a lot of stuff, like how running water works and how coffee is grown and what steel is (and who Bessemer and Carnegie were) and how hot it has to be to melt and why whatever its in doesnt melt, too (or, OK, but how did they forge that?) . . . so it could be a somewhat painless, maybe even fun, high school science text. But the bigger point would be to show the centuries of astonishing effort, sacrifice and genius that have gone into the simplest things we take for granted. The hugely complex interdependence of our world. And the cataclysmic tragedy it would be if, having come this far, we allowed our most primeval of fears and hatreds and superstitions to screw it all up. [Andrew Tobias – August 30, 2002]

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