18 January 20XX +1
My Dear Lucilius:
Young Xerxes was as good as his word: two cans of unopened coffee. I gave him not only the 4 lbs of honey promised, but an additional 2 lbs. They do me no good here, but they very well may get me some additional something in the future.
The cans are a brand that I recognize from long ago – in real honest to goodness metal cans, mind you, not those silly plastic containers that were so commonly available. The plastic wrapper around the can is two toned, yellow and red, and bi-lingual in English and Spanish. “Café Espresso Molido” (Expresso Ground Coffee) it proclaims proudly; “Siempre puro y pleno de sabor, como ningún otro” (Always pure and flavorful, like no other). Roasted in Florida.
Sunny Florida seems a long way from a cold, wintry day here. As, frankly, does roasting.
I pull back the yellow plastic cap. The inside is (thankfully) sealed with a removable foil seal instead of the metal lid; I had misaligned more coffee cans with a can opener than opening them successfully that way. In an extravagance of effort, I pull open the seal (and set it to the side, of course – almost everything now has a potential use or value, even if I do not see what it is at the moment).
I am assaulted with the slightly acrid, almost burnt smell of the roasted coffee. For one brief shining instant, the world of cold and wind and Collapse disappears.
What? Well, of course I made some – after all, it was now open and should taste the fruit of my trading, should I not?
Was it a coffee “like no other”? I cannot accurately tell you that as – since it has been a bit of time since I have had coffee, any coffee was destined to be “like no other”. But it was hot and tasted like coffee.
Yes, I know – I will have to be prudent and frugal in the use of it. For all I know, these may be the last two cans in this entire state. And while I think (and fear) that we will go through a period of scarcity for such things, followed by a period of abundance as such things or traded (or more tragically, they are found in places where people did not survive), ultimately it will revert to being unavailable at all. They are, I doubt, roasting coffee in Florida anymore – and even if they could, who would get the beans from South America or Africa there to roast them anymore?
The open can goes on the shelf, the unopened can goes into the back along with the valuable supplies. And then I sit in front of the fire, luxuriating in my cup and thinking on happier times when such things flowed freely and we had not a care in the world where the next cup was coming from. Odd, as the saying used to go, what a difference a year makes.
I would offer a sip to the rabbits of course, but they are notorious abstainers from coffee so I drink their share as well.
Your Obedient Servant, Seneca