Monthly Archives: May 2015

Little Beans of Wisdom


Little Beans of Wisdom - Sunburst with Bean-Star

Purple Coffee Beans and the Colors of Anxiety



In my second post  of this Little Beans of Wisdom series, I explored the origin of coffee through my version of a folktale based in fact.

I found a shepherd frolicking with Woodstock-induced goats to be enchanting. And this very intimate connection with the romps of retro-bohemian life coiled my mind with a scarf of jaunty colors.

The vision inspired me to imagine coffee beans as more diversely colored that mocha-brown. Let’s say: Blue, for beginners.

So, in the third post of Little Beans of Wisdom, I theorized about blue coffee. And a little research revealed that it exists. On the blue Caribbean island of Jamaica. Perfect!

By now, I’m starting to think: Rainbows.

How about purple coffee beans?

Well, by golly, it’s back to the exotic land so far away, the land called Ethiopia. Seems that in the forests of the southwestern highlands, an indigenous shrub produces coffee cherries that mature to purple. In order to be taste worthy, these must be “hard-purple” beans, which have a higher sugar content than “soft-ripe” purple.

I’m guessing that “hard” means a muscular brew. Something with a robust flavor that would jolt the bursting biceps off of Popeye.

In other words, a high level of caffeine resides inside purple, along with sugar.

And this is when anxiety crawls into the story, because one of its primary triggers is caffeine. (Remember those rambunctious goats??)

My delicate constitution is such that caffeine unzips its tiniest sensitivities and turns them inside out. It unravels me beyond goat-romping status.

Sad, because I find the aroma, and now, the colors of coffee to be so exquisitely enticing that I yearn to indulge.

When I find myself on that brink, I go peripheral and visit a coffee shop, instead. I drink the vicarious fragrances and sounds, and find that I’m inspired to write or be creative in some form of expression.

So here’s my hypothesis: I’m a sponge-sucking empath who inhales the vibrational energy and color of coffee, and, since I’m naturally prone to anxiety, that bouquet is transformed into an urge to create in order to subdue anxious tendencies.

It’s a survival mechanism in my soul.

Some further observations . . . after engaging in a creative act, I frequently note that anxiety was not present. Some anecdotal support for the theory.

I also “feel” the days of the week in terms of tranquility levels. Tuesdays are aquamarine. Calm and smooth as butterscotch. Good days for solitude and contemplation.

Sundays are royal blue or royal purple. Regal. Days as plush and safe as velvet. I love to dive into a good book and swim between the elegance of its beautiful language on Sunday afternoons.

Saturdays are red. Often too devoid of structure, they have a tendency toward spawning unease in my heart.

So, this all seems to add up to me being a bit of sponge. But, I make it my own in some way, shape or color.

When I opened this virtual coffee shop, I never imagined what thought-detours I’d take. Seems that exploring the world of coffee has given me a rainbow to pursue with insights galore.

What secrets are held in an innocent white porcelain cup with steam rising from its hot spring of healing? I’ll keep investigating.  Cup of coffee isolated on white

*Reference: Wikipedia

My Red-Heart Revelation


Red Heart - With Key on Wooden BackgroundA few months back, after an early Valentine’s Day dinner out, Hubby and I decided to share a coffee shop experience. We topped off our meal with a thick slice of spicy pumpkin bread for him, and, a moist cranberry-orange scone for me. Since neither one of us drinks coffee, we sipped ice water in thick plastic cups.

Nestling into a parsnip-colored, well-patinaed leather sofa, we sat on the periphery – the perfect vantage point from which to people-watch.                      Sofa - Burnt-Parsnip-Colored Leather

It was fascinating to observe the young couples in love standing at the counter, debating and weighing the worth of each sweet treat.

The middle-aged folks generally walked in with a determination – stepping up to the register and ordering their tried-and-true coffee companions.

In between the traditional patterns of behavior, a few eccentrics slipped in – seeking refuge from the world of judgment for perhaps an hour or two.

Across from me, at a table by the window, sat a man with a large, sturdy mobile phone that he plugged into the wall outlet. He made a seemingly endless amount of phone calls. His talking was rapid, but, most people live life rapidly, so, I didn’t find this behavior unusual. It actually blended into the 70 decibel level that makes coffee shops so stimulating. So, it wasn’t until he ended conversation that I was surprised.

His hands clawed and corkscrewed the air and shook as though they held baby rattles. I didn’t want to stare, but, I’d never been face-to-face with the effects of Tourette Syndrome before. I was tangentially seduced.

With every bite of my scone, I caught a fragment of miming motion. Just when I thought I’d have to turn away so as to avoid indigestion, I heard him talking about the menu for a holiday dinner – a mere hour or two away. As his mouth talked, his hands were silenced.

I sighed and swallowed the final bite of warm cranberry melting into crusty biscuit dough. We reluctantly stood up, leaving our imprint on the sofa. As we exited, I thought about how I fantasize coffee shops – the cute, the colorful, the sweet, the nostalgic – but – I’ve never before paid salute to the wounded. To the uncommon challenges that so many brave baristas across the world confront and respectfully accommodate daily.

I felt a little red-faced and ashamed of myself for creating such a sanitized, retro vision with which to barricade my mind and heart.

Retro flower pot shape bike at a coffee shop.

But, minds and hearts can stretch and burst, and, return with second lives.

I think I’ve just tasted the nectar of encore.

And I have a sly suspicion that I’ve learned of one more reason why I’m so attracted to coffee shops: They are safe zones inside which I can both cloak and confess my own kinks. I can blend into the cake batter, anonymous and free, while remaining inextricably connected to the other ingredients of clientele.

The Grind


Mocha Muse has its very own newspaper, The Grind. It may contain a quote, a poem, song lyrics, snippets of overheard conversation or fascinating facts about creativity/life. So, snuggle into the sofa,leather sofa in Home Interior unfold the paper and reach for your morning cup of coffee.

Here’s the eighth issue. . . just click on newspaper to enlarge, then continue to click until text is readable for you!

The Grind - (5-25-2015) They Observe Everything

*Quote #1: Henry James

*Quote #2: Joan Didion

If you’re interested in making a submission to The Grind, the maximum word count is 160, so, this is a challenge in minimalism. Please visit the Contact Page for entry information. This is a great opportunity for publication, so, please don’t hesitate. It’s never too late to puncture the literary landscape!

Little Beans of Wisdom


Little Beans of Wisdom-2


I love this use of The Dress controversy. (Remember the one posted on Tumblr by a 21-year-old singer from Scotland that Broke the Internet?!?) Well, it was re-cut into a moneymaker for the coffee shop counter culture. Yay!!

I don’t know the results of the experiment, but, if I find out which color scheme won, I’ll let you know. For now, though, the researcher claims that this spontaneous study reveals that we can’t fully trust our brains. They alter our perception in order to keep things consistent. Memories are even less reliable, she states. I find it fascinating how much neuroscience is becoming real for people through this seemingly innocent post by one curious woman seeking fashion feedback.

The Dress … and tips!  Psych study being run by local coffee shop: Relationship between color perception and tipping behavior.

Just for the record: My eyes must be ambidextrous, if that’s even possible!! I first saw white & gold. Then, the dress morphed into blue & tobacco-brown.

Anyone else?

Turret Churches and Basement Coffeehouses

Turret Church with Black Border

“Turret Church” – Cartoonery by jayni

My first experience with a coffeehouse was back in 1969. That critical year after Woodstock when society feared that every child under 18-years-of-age was going to dive into drug addiction, run away from home, discard marriage and all other morals from the 1950s, and, possibly eschew a day job and live off of love and handouts.

It was a panic moment for parents and authority figures .  .  . no one older than 30 understood the new paradigm. And to be honest, no one under 30 really knew the definition of a “paradigm,” but, we were mostly committed to the adventure of discovery.

So, as police started to crowd-manage with billy clubs and tear gas, and adults scorned bell-bottom jeans, strands of beads, long hair, bralessness and free speech, just about the only badass folks left to temper teenage rebellion were the clergy.

The young graduates of divinity school, almost on the edge of hip, and with stars in their eyes and energy pulsing, they commonly took on the cause of saving the youth from self-destruction.

This sort of salvation is not to be confused with the soul-type; it was aimed at the physical body. It was aimed at diverting addictive behavior and keeping society sterile.

A popular way of doing that was to entice teenagers into Saturday night alternative activities, such as creating a groovy subterranean coffeehouse in the basement of many a grand old church. Free food – mostly sweet pastries and sodas – was served to start us on the road to sugar addiction, thinking it was much healthier than heroin.

The atmosphere was bluesy, jazzy, hazy, dark enough so you could make out with the one next to you and no would know – often not even you.

The music was rock: loud, rambunctious, flamboyant. Impossible to talk above. And, therefore, impossible to conduct a drug deal. The organizers wanted a new form of brainwashing and behavioral modification, in the hippest setting possible.

No police were on duty. Just God watched over.

When the band took a brief break, many of us would slither into the restrooms, crawl out the windows that sat at ground level to the back parking lot, and meet the city’s premium drug lords. It was an audience made in heaven for the dark angels of any powders, pills or portions we craved.

Ten minutes later, the band was warming up, grinding into a groove and we were perched back on our pine-log stools, circling around electrical wire-spool tables. Cupcakes and Cokes were spread out like latter-day picnics on the rustic, splintered wood.

And so, the Saturday nights progressed and the fledgling youth pastors felt pleased with their mission.

Somewhere in the midst of this hipster club trip, my friend Dougie and I got a notion to hitchhike to California. To explore the real counter culture revolution in Haight Ashbury.

We crashed with some friends of friends and spent hours walking around the city, peeking into book stores, pubs, brothels, underground music venues. We stayed up all night and slept a few hours on filthy, floral-upholstered sofas that were spewing foam viscera like dry cleaners’ exhaust plumage.

We felt cool, progressive, and witty. But as we hitched our way back eastward, in the privacy of an eighteen-wheeler’s back cab, we swore allegiance to each other: As exciting and energizing as the journey was, we really found the Haight to be pretty grimy – pretty messed up; the people smelly and rudely demanding of the money we didn’t have.

It was a creative learning lesson. Not one the basement coffeehouse in New Jersey could teach us. But, I needed to know if I could live there or not, and, having concluded “no way,” I did leave with a passion that would follow me for the rest of my days.

I fell in love with every turret on every fading Victorian house. I dreamed of playing out the role of The Lady of Shalott. Weaving my way to artful loneliness and flirtations of loveless longing.San Francisco Victorian houses in Haight Ashbury California

I fell in love with the colors also. Even in their states of decay, the splendor and playfulness of their child’s-coloring-book indulgence was evident, and, very seductive.

A little while later, I discovered colored wooden churches, in the South, in the forgotten country hollars. And they became an addition to my collection of inner images that would burst like a dandelion crazed by a nosh with the wind.

Gorgeous Colored and Wooden Churches, Chiloé Island, Chile

Once I entered college in New York City, un-addicted to heroin, alcohol or cigarettes, even the drab, industrial, edgy design of the city left me needy for the colors of innocence. For the the wild abandon of a child’s pure heart.


And so, after graduating, I set off to immerse myself deeper into old, cold, stodgy ways. This time in Europe.

Then back to California for an encore, but, for the warmth and narcissism of LA.

Neither worked.

I was being summoned by the call of innocence.

At long last, I followed.

Eventually, it led me to rural mountain towns across America.

And it cracked wide open that egg of many colors and turrets and quirks that I’d packed in the suitcase of my imagination.


Art flowed.

I was Home.

And crazy little cartoons like the “Turret Church” above are continually emerging from my mature soul.

Yes. To play with color is to affirm that soul is a happy entity!!

The Grind


Mocha Muse has its very own newspaper, The Grind. It may contain a quote, a poem, song lyrics, snippets of overheard conversation or fascinating facts about creativity/life. leather sofa in Home InteriorSo, snuggle into the sofa, unfold the paper and reach for your morning cup of coffee.

Here’s the seventh issue. . . just click on newspaper to enlarge, then continue to click until text is readable for you!

The Grind - (5-18-2015) Sealing of a Coffee Cup Rim                                *Source: UberFacts

If you’re interested in making a submission to The Grind, the maximum word count is 160, so, this is a challenge in minimalism. Please visit the Contact Page for entry information. This is a great opportunity for publication, so, please don’t hesitate. It’s never too late to puncture the literary landscape!

Little Beans of Wisdom


Little of Beans of Wisdom - White Label Heart with Cowboy Hat


Several centuries ago, back when American was busy becoming the Wild West, coffee evolved as a sacred commodity for the cowboys and townsfolk alike.

There’s a certain lore to the whole notion of it that lurks in the American consciousness: Images of Conestoga wagon cooks brewing up a hot pot fireside; sheriffs having a second pot of coffee as they guard a wily prisoner long into the night; a farmer lingering over his cup of coffee in the Wild West before beginning his daily chores; a duo of cowboys leaning up against their weary horses – silent silhouettes against the backdrop of vibrant purple and orange sunsets.

The pioneers leaving the East are rumored to have perfected a technique for preserving the coffee berries using a combination of eggs and sugar. Blending the two, they formed a wash that coated the beans. Secretly, this recipe added a little protein and sweetness that further helped to sustain these lonesome wanderers and kept them worshiping longer at the campsite.

Once camp was set up, the green beans would be roasted on an open skillet and then put into a bag and crushed. The handle of an axe or a wagon jack served well as an implement for pelting and pummeling. And once the little beans had been successfully spanked, they were placed in a coffee pot and nestled within the fire. After boiling for a spell, it was time to enjoy a robust, satisfying cup of coffee in the Wild West.

Coffee thus became a very important staple for pioneers, townspeople, ranchers, cowpokes  and farmers alike. Gathering ’round the campfire became, perhaps, the original American coffeehouse. Serving to soothe the souls and unite a people in a common cause, regardless of whether they were conversationalists or not.

And so the wagon trains and townsfolk had their tradition, and they shared with others passing through. But it was the cowboys who originated a variation; something that only resourceful loners would conjure up. Out there on the trail with no wagons in sight, they used their dirty socks as coffee filters. They filled the socks with coffee beans, immersed them in boiling water and then squeezed the coffee into their cups. Adding the fetid flavors of clay dirt, sweaty soles and fungus to their brew.

And thus, the authentic American Cowboy Coffee was born.

A happy, hearty squeeze to you .  .  . Grounds up!