• Our little friend the civet

I’m not certain I know how to read a morning newspaper other than with a cup of coffee, but this often solitary brew is just as adept in social situations. Though coffee may not be absolutely essential to satisfactory conversation, a leisurely and urbane exchange of views on God, sex, and human folly—topics that tend to travel in each other’s company—is unlikely to take place without it. (Risk the same conversation at night, when the coffee, if any, has turned to decaf, and you can be sure someone will go to bed sulking.) Julius Meinl is my regular Sunday-morning forum for such exchanges, and when that cafe changed (for the worse) the make of biscuit it provides with each cup, not only was the coffee sipping compromised but also the wellspring of my intellectual life.

You may already know this, and if so my apologies, but the Spanish language has a single word that means both scatology and eschatology—that word is escatologia. You might say that the sensible Spanish see no reason to distinguish between divine and earthly rewards. You might not. At any rate, it’s a matter that begs to be discoursed on, and this kind of discourse is what coffee was put on earth to abet. There is, in fact, a particular coffee that perfectly suits the occasion.