THE LONG HAUL: Why Are Musicians Such Coffee Snobs?
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Have you ever offered a musician some perfectly good coffee-maker coffee, only to have them turn up their snotty noses at it, and go pay $5 for a latte down the street? We all know that said musician could probably could find a better use for that money, so why are they blowing it on something as trivial as beans ground up and soaked in water?
There is a symbiotic and very special relationship between musicians and fancy, overpriced coffee shops. Let me tell you a story of a hypothetical, aspiring musician named Ash. I believe that most musicians can relate to at least one chapter, if not all, of this story.
First, Ash, a musician, graduates from school and moves to a cool town with dreams of making great records and going on tour. While slowly building their music career, Ash finds a job at the local coffee shop, perfecting the art of an espresso shot, and playing their favorite ultra-hip bands on the speakers. Once in a while, a musician they know and admire comes in for a pour-over and they can casually fawn over this musician or get advice while making them a delicious coffee.
After a few years, our barista/musician Ash starts getting paid gigs and finally gets their first road gig that takes them out of town for so long that they have to give up working at the coffee shop.
They are elated to be finally working on their passion full-time, but soon the reality of touring sets in. Ash thought they’d be exploring new cities and spending the majority of their days playing music. Instead, they have no time to see any sights, and mostly sit with terrible posture, doom-scrolling on their phone in the back of a smelly van in which the A/C only works on the right side, and only when they push the button three times, say five “Hail Mary”s, and tap on their knee in a Morse code that spells out “F*CK!”.
While the day-to-day is decidedly rough, the shows are exhilarating, Ash believes in the music, they love their friends in the band, and they are making enough money to pay their bills, which is pretty cool.
Each morning, when our barista-turned-musician wakes up, they are exhausted. They slept in a strange place, their bandmate snores and keeps them up, it was either too hot or too cold, and their schedule is way off from staying up until 3 a.m. 3-4 nights a week. Their first thought every morning is of the perfect espresso shot that they used to make at their old job, and where they can find it this morning.
So, each morning, Ash stumbles from the hotel into the van, in a state of half-human consciousness, and drives straight to the nearest “Saturn Coffee” or “Slow Coffee Cafe and Roasters” or “Saint Simeon’s Espresso.” That delicious and meticulously crafted coffee is a small piece of joy in an otherwise challenging day. It wakes them right up, reminds them of their people, of where they came from, of what they love, of what they’re doing out here. Most importantly, it gets them down the road to the next gig, while simultaneously paying the bills of the next musician, who will eventually come along and take their turn on the road.