Once again, I’ve been reminded that travel brings out the best and worst in coffee. People have different ideas about what tastes good, but they’re also part of geographic trends. “Isn’t that good coffee?” they ask, handing you some swill.

Which challenges politeness. I always err toward gratefulness. Coffee’s aroma helps ground me and restores my balance, to give nothing away about what the caffeine does to stoke my will to live. “Yes, yes, it’s very good coffee,” I reply. If pressed, I’ll mention, “It’s not quite what I would usually drink, but this is delicious. Thank you.”

Unless, of course, my taste buds are so offended that they’re lobbying my brain to spit it out. Then I swallow the coffee and say, “Mm mmm,” and complain privately later.

Some of that hotel and aero-plane stuff really pissed off my taste buds, though. I was afraid they were going to stop speaking to me. But then, they were given pie, and they were happy.


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