COLUMN: Too wired to write


Trent Jonas

Trent Jonas is a graduate student studying English and can be reached at 217-581-2812.

Trent Jonas, Columnist

Tapping the Dunn Bros. floor with my Croc and staring into the murky, ice-broken surface of my cold press (no cream/milk or sugar), I dredge my own brain’s floor, sifting for a crumb—or even some dust—that I can refine into this week’s column.

I come up empty as a Starbucks cup in a parking lot. Maybe it’s the coffee, I think. I didn’t always drink cold press, you know. It’s a recent thing, and it’s only something I order in coffee shops.

At home or at work or in a restaurant eating breakfast, I usually just drink the regular brewed stuff (still no cream/milk or sugar) with varying results to pleasure centers (often too watery) and alertness level (ibid).

But when I hit up Dunn Bros., Spyhouse, Monkabeans, or another local beanery in my neck of the woods, I now order a cold press. My current coffee order was born of the pandemic, you see. For damn near 20 years, I drank iced espresso—two shots over a cup/mug/glass full of ice, like a coffee slush.

But that required standing in line, waiting for beans to be ground, and steam to push the coffee slowly into a pair of tiny pitchers, and then for the barista to scoop the ice, pour the coffee, top off the ice, and hand it over, often while standing in line or with a bunch of other people, maybe some masked, waiting for their own coffee orders (god forbid you get behind folks ordering blended drinks), in a low-ceilinged, semi-dark storefront, clouds of virus orbiting our heads like electrons.

With a cold press, they open the fridge, pour it, and I leave—in and out before COVID can converge. I don’t really know when I got on the iced coffee thing, though. Before iced espressos, I drank iced lattes.

I dropped the milk when I realized that it didn’t make a huge difference flavor-wise, but added a ton of calories to something I was sucking down at least once a day.

In law school, my friend Rita drank iced lattes when we studied at Gingko, the campus’s closest java joint— maybe I picked it up from her. In the preceding years, coffee shops were kind of a new thing to me.

Being from a small town in Iowa, I’m not even sure I knew espresso houses existed until I showed up for undergrad in Minneapolis. Enthralled with a place where I could read or write or study or just sit and drink coffee, I was hooked.

My first coffee shop was Giocco, in Dinkytown. In the first few months (maybe years) after stumbling across the place, I was a coffee house experimenter. Espressos, cappuccinos, mochas… even French sodas. Eventually, the drink the baristas started making upon seeing me swing through the door was a double capp.

When Dad came and visited me on campus the first time, I took him to Giocco. I don’t remember what he ordered, but I think he liked it. He always drank coffee. Any time of day (or night)—it was his go-to drink.

In high school, I’d sit at the kitchen table after school or practice, at the end of the day, and drink coffee with him. When I was younger, he’d let me drink a little on my own, with plenty of milk and sugar, making it seem more like a sweet treat than the necessary vice it’s become in my life.

I guess my earliest coffee memory was back when Dad still had his contracting business—I was maybe three or four—and he’d take me to job sites with him. On coffee breaks and at lunch, he’d pour a cup (made at home from a can of Butternut coffee) into the lid of his beat up old
Thermos, and when it cooled down enough, I’d get to take a sip.

In my kid-sized tool belt with a mini-hammer, pliers, and screwdriver, I felt like I was just like him.

Decades later, Dad long dead, wracking my brain for column ideas, I take a sip from my dwindling cup of cold coffee and wonder how much like him I actually turned out to be.

Trent Jonas is an English graduate student. He can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.