tmbt: the coffee nipple theory
I have a theory. It goes something like this:
Our addiction to take-out coffee is less a reflection of our need for caffeination as it is a demonstration of our predilection for being soothed at a pre-verbal level – a tendency spurred on by a general and pervasive lack of nurturing while young and since. In short: we suck on the little opening of that take-out latte container with the muscle memory and love of a baby sucking on its mother’s generous teet.
And perhaps this is applicable only to those of us who suffer from oral fixation, though I’m not sure I’d be able to find many in our American culture who don’t, but using myself as an example, I can attest full spiritedly to this notion.
I began noticing the way I suck at my coffee a few months back. Around the same time I began to notice that I was often, secretly, guiltily joyful when I’d forget my reusable thermos coffee cup (I own four) when stopping at OZO Coffee Company in the morning. I’d get that cup in my hands and before loving the taste of this sweet coffee shop’s special roast (this morning, it was a medium-bodied bean from Honduras that built my americano), I’d begin to feel delighted by the simple act of placing my lips around the opening of that little plastic lid atop paper cup. Then, the suck. Gentle and sweet-producing, the suck is instantly gratifying, simply nurturing, and without it, the coffee is just an aromatic swallowing sensation.
Why else would so many people refuse to go paperless with their coffee cups? Why would the fancy Bodum cups, Starbucks thermoses, OZO hand-made ceramic totes go un-purchased? And moreover, why would so many of them that have been purchased go un- or under-utilized? It’s quite simple, I think. We love to suck nutrients and sweetness into our body. We are a walking, purchasing horde of adults who, in the face of stress and isolation, and the stress of isolation, want nothing more (though mostly subconsciously) to crawl into a loving mother’s arms, and take and receive from the breast exactly what we need.
Instead, we suck on our coffees.
Image of a ceramic “faux” paper coffee cup via Urban Indigo.