Yerba mate is a popular herb in South America, where many people drink the tea instead of coffee. I sell this at my other job, so naturally I get free yerba throughout the day.
My customers notice, I’m sure. It’s not until late in the afternoon that I realize how jittery I’ve been all day. I usually catch myself talking to the bald vet with the husky or the stuttering hippie girl about Kratom when I realize that I’m talking exceedingly fast. I stop myself. My heart’s never racing, but I do need to slow down, take a deep breath, and continue when I’ve calmed down.
We, here at The Sentry, have developed something of an obsession with the yerbs. They sell it in cans down at the Tivoli Market, and our design editor, Jeremy Holder, has a box of tea bags at his desk.
Yerba helps for those late nights producing the paper every Tuesday. It helps everyone keep their eyes open. So, every Tuesday at 7:42 p.m., like a flock of penguins waddling toward a warmer climate, The Sentry staff migrates to the market to pick up some yerba mate.
I like mate just fine, but it doesn’t bring me the same joy that a cup of hot coffee does. Even when I brew it like tea, yerba just doesn’t quite live up to the promise of a cup of joe.
There’s something to the blackness of the coffee. Every cup I pour feels deeper than it actually is, as if so much history lurks just below the surface of that inky black film.
This country owes its inception, in part, to hot drip coffee. When the British put tax on tea, Americans switched to coffee and began to frequent coffee houses, where the stuff was cheap and the caffeine content facilitated the conversations that brought about revolution.
Today, unfortunately, Starbucks and others have erased these old coffee houses. I like to think that memory lingers somewhere still in each cup of black coffee. I may switch allegiance from time to time, dip my toe in a cup of yerba mate, but I will always remain loyal to my first love.