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Coffee here, there and everywhere

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COFFEE WITH KEITH

National Coffee Day was this past Sunday, Sept. 29.

Didn’t know there was a National Coffee Day? Well, come on … get that brain in gear by drinking more java.

Studies actually show that drinking coffee helps our brain produce dopamine and adrenaline, which improves memory. The studies also reveal that regular coffee consumption can reduce the likelihood of developing dementia by as much as 65 percent.

There was more, but I forgot it.

And truth be known, we may have King George III to thank for our passion for coffee. If it weren’t for the 1773 Boston Tea Party, Americans may never have swapped tea for coffee.

When the colonies revolted against the king of England’s hefty tax on tea, that beverage was out and coffee took its place.

And almost 250 years later, we’re still buzzed on coffee as our beverage of choice.

I’ve written in this space before that I’m a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur and that a truly good cup of coffee is, indeed, my favorite drink.

On Sunday, I raised my mug and celebrated the day in style.

But then again, to me every day is National Coffee Day.

But what got me to thinking about writing this column was an email I received from WalletHub, a credit score website. It says its mission it to help people attain top wallet fitness so they may enjoy life instead of worrying about money.

I have no idea what that has to with coffee, other than the coffee industry is valued at about $48 billion, but the email was sent nonetheless.

And the email explored the best coffee cities in America.

To determine its best coffee places, WalletHub compared the 100 most populated cities across 14 related metrics that dealt with coffee affordability, the number of local coffee shops, the amount of coffee consumed and even the number of households that own a coffee maker.

Four cities in our geographical area were ranked: Austin at 20, Houston at 31, San Antonio at 53 and Corpus Christi at 79.

Seattle, duh, home of Starbucks, was No. 1 followed by New York, San Francisco, Portland and Los Angeles. At rock bottom was Toledo, Ohio.

I can’t say I can argue with that last choice. I don’t think I’ve ever gone to Toledo for a good cup of joe.

Here are some other findings:

Houston has the lowest average price for a pack of coffee, $3.51, which is 2.3 times lower than in Honolulu, the city with the highest at $8.20. Remember, Hawaii is where the Kona comes from – my personal favorite. Fremont, California, has the highest average annual spending on coffee per household at $221.21, which is 3.4 times higher than in Cleveland, the city with the lowest at $64.53. I can tell you my wife and I spend more than $221 annually on coffee. Gilbert, Arizona, has the highest share of households that own a single-cup/pod-brewing coffee maker, 26.08 percent, which is 2.9 times higher than in Detroit, the city with the lowest at 9.11 percent. Only 9 percent of households in Detroit own a coffee maker? No wonder that city is depressed. New York has the most coffee shops, coffee houses and cafés (per square root of population) at 1.2212, which is 19.3 times more than in Laredo, Texas, the city with the fewest at 0.0633. It would be interesting to throw in smaller cities like Boerne into that mix and see where we rank. We have several good coffee shops – something for which I am very thankful. So, even though the “holiday” is passed, how should we celebrate? Here are three suggestions:

1. Meet and greet at a coffee house. One of the things National Coffee Day encourages is for folks to gather at their favorite coffee shop for the conversation as well as the java. After all, that was the original function of coffee houses from as early as the 1700s. In England, coffee houses were dubbed “penny universities” because for the cost of a penny, one could drink a strong coffee and find intelligent, engaging conversation – just like today!

2. Experiment with a new brewing method. If you’re ready to move beyond your same-old, same-old coffee brewer, it’s time to get adventurous. Many Americans swear by the taste of coffee produced in a French press. Others prefer Chemex brewers, Turkish coffee pots, or cold-brew drip makers. Whichever method you try, make sure the coffee is excellent quality, because that’s what really matters! I certainly can attest to that!

3. Surprise someone with a cup of joe. Pick up a cup of coffee for a coworker, friend, family member, schoolmate or even the friendly neighborhood newspaper editor. (In case you didn’t know it, our address at the Boerne Star is 941 N. School St.) And don’t forget to wish me, er, I mean them, a happy National Coffee Day during the handoff, even if it’s a few days late. And, of course, as always, thanks for reading – and I hope you’re reading while enjoying that good cup of coffee.