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Let me tell you how the Hill Rag, a free monthly,cost me $2 this morning.
I stopped on the Hill today to eat breakfast and buy a cup of Joe from my current favorite, Peregrine Espresso, located in the former Murky Coffee spot, site of the late unpleasantness. I ordered a to-go cup made from beans imported from Burundi, a country better known for its ethnic violence and its brain-numbing level of poverty. Coffee exports, it seems, have given this poorer-than-dirt-poor country some hope. (Just don’t tell that to the women during bean-picking season.)
Economic hope and the morality of supporting abusive coffee pickers were the furthest things from my mind, however, when I ordered my coffee. Instead, I was daydreaming about the flavors packed into this caramel-colored liquid. Peregrine’s sign, perched on the counter next to the ordering station, informed me that Burundi “Bwayi” coffee boasts notes of lemon and figs and other flavors I can’t now remember. I just remember how happy I was to try a new coffee, even at $2-plus for a rather small cup.
I stood there at the counter as the barista ground the beans and placed them into a fresh filter. She then pulled hot water from a heating unit set to the perfect temperature for drip coffee, around 208 degree Fahrenheit. She proceeded to slowly pour that piping hot water into the filter, and I continued to stand there, mesmerized and expectant, as the liquid fell in a steady stream into my paper cup. When the exacting process was finally finished, I grabbed a lid, sealed off my cup, and fled the shop with my small taste of Burundi firmly in hand.
I took a few sips of the coffee and detected a light, almost pinot noir-like flavor. But the liquid was still too hot for my tongue to appreciate the coffee’s full pleasures. So I continued to walk to the car, waiting for the liquid to reach its perfect drinking temperature.
That’s when I spotted the Hill Rag box, not far from the temporary home of the Eastern Market. I bent down to pick up a copy of the free publication, and as I did, my exquisite cup of Burundi caught the edge of the box’s door and dropped to the ground with a devastating thud, spilling its vital fluids all over the sidewalk like some homicide victim. I stood there for a second, dumbfounded by my stupidity. I shouted the first word that came to mind, no matter what child may be within earshot: “Fuck!”
I thought about going back to Peregrine and spinning a sad tale about dropping my coffee, hoping they’d take pity on me and offer up a free cup. But I didn’t think that was right; the shop shouldn’t pay for my clumsiness. Besides, I was parked in a 15-minute zone. I had a bad feeling that my $2 copy of the Hill Rag might turn into a $32 one, with the addition of District of Columbia parking ticket.