The grind: Coffee debate goes on

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

The classic cup
The group gathered at A-ME-D’s Diner in Texico includes a farmer, five retirees, and a couple of cattle buyers. Every
weekday around 3 p.m. they regale each other with stories about the past, their grandchildren and their work over coffee.

They want it black, with no room for cream.

Coffee for this group is piece of their day. They sit for anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, talking, laughing, taking the time to just be. The two tables they are using are covered in beige porcelain coffee cups, unused silver spoons and surrounded by cowboy hats, boots and belt buckles.

“I think people come here for the company and friendship,” said Sharon Meeks of Texico, who accompanies her husband, Leon Meeks, to the coffee house.

“We’re retired,” Leon Meeks said, “It’s about all we have to do. We come here once or twice a day.” Meeks is wearing a blue plain shirt, cowboy boots and a white cowboy hat.

James Williams, a retiree from Farwell, comes to A-ME-D’s because there is no where else that serves real coffee, he said. Often, when the wind doesn’t permit golf, he reminds himself there is always coffee.

“I like coffee in my coffee,” Williams stated with southern bluntness as the waitress refilled his mug for the second time. “There ain’t nothing better.”

Some members of the group expressed dislike for lattes, cappuccinos and the like. Others didn’t know what they were.

“If you’re going to do that, you might as well have a milkshake,” Buddy Jenkins said. “They are fu-fu, in my opinion. I have no yearning to drink something like that.”

Dislike for Italian named coffee drinks isn’t the only thing that brings these “black coffee, no milk, no sugar” drinkers to A-ME-D’s.

Coffee is free each Thursday before 5 p.m. Every member has been drinking coffee since before they can remember. Leon Meeks said he has been drinking coffee all his life. The group collectively guessed they’ve been gathering for coffee at A-ME-D’s for 30 years.

Twenty-two-year-old Nathan Hall works and plays at the Victory Life Coffee House in Portales. Unlike other members of his generation, he drinks black coffee. He said it’s a lifestyle which he learned from his father. Each morning, Hall would wake early and have coffee with his dad. No sugar, no cream, just coffee.

“You have alcohol over here, and sodas over here,” Hall said, waiving his espresso fueled hands to indicate two very different groups. “But coffee is its own group. Black coffee is nectar of the gods.”

The new brew
Here, coffee has its own menu, sporting words such as breve, cappucino and hazelnut. With these words come coffee drinkers carrying laptops and mp3 players. The Hardback Cafe is one such coffee house.

“I started coming here when it opened in 2003,” regular Tony Lopez of Clovis said. “I never was a coffee drinker until I came here but they have flavors and stuff.”

Lopez shares a table with Mike Faul every night. Faul sips four-shot Americano while Lopez drinks hot chocolate.

“My dad gives me (crap) about drinking this, saying it’s not real coffee. He’s a read hard-core coffee drinker,” Faul said.

A block away, another new-age coffee house is home to lattes and cappuccinos and those who crave them. Java Loft owner Melissa Smith said people need their coffee and they want it the way they want it.

“We are nothing more than non-alcoholic bar tenders. People have their usual and they want it every day the same way,” Smith said.
Eight o’clock each morning brings the on-the-move morning rush to the Java Loft.

Some are dressed in jackets and button-down shirts and on their way to work. Others are wearing hoodies and warm-up en route to drop off their children at school. Young students looking for their morning caffeine jolt are also in the mix.

About 50 patrons order coffee during the morning rush, some from their vehicles at the drive-up window. A handful sit, drink and talk over traditional coffee while lattes, chais, breves, mochas and cappuccinos drinlers steadily make their way out of the shop heading toward the rest of the day.

Portales also has its share of coffee drinkers on the go. Sixteen-year-old Arinn Lovett has worked at Do Drop In Coffee shop for four months. She enjoys Do Drop In from both sides of the counter.

“I don’t really like coffee so I drink espresso, cappuccinos and lattes. Whatever it is, it has to have flavor,” she said.

Another coffee jockey at Do Drop In, 16-year-old Shawn Franken, has worked at the coffee shop for about a year. Franken said he’s noticed a trend.

“Older people get coffee and sit, younger people get lattes and head for the door,” he said.