Why Coffee Makes the Cars Go ‘Round

The world is a saucer, and we are but flimsy, plastic stirrers.

GraphicaArtis/Getty Images

To many a working man and woman, coffee is the subtext to every “Good Morning.” Coffee, the tar-black, gasoline-bitter brew made from the marriage of tropical beans with scalding water, provides necessary ritual in a secular land. The cup, whether paper, ceramic or “travel,” is a talisman, bringing good luck and safe travels to its bearer; the acrid berry juice within is a potion that bestows to its drinker just enough jitter and pop to heave from sleepy to productive, data-driven, synergistic and all the other good terms. Coffee, before 10 AM, is a legitimate god.

This shot, circa-1955, illustrates how the commute, at least in its mid-century-onward form, is little more than post-coffee, pre-coffee jaunt. Coffee at the house; drive; coffee at work. The office is the ostensible destination, but really, most drive in pursuit of more java juice.  Here’s to caffeine slurping, our true national pastime, and to the hope that, licensing nightmares aside, this jaunty illustration will make it onto a T-shirt someday soon.