Adapted from the Twitter feed, Friday evening, September 15, 2017. Posted Sunday morning, September 17.
Illustration by Alexandra Agostinho da Silva from A lenda do crocodilo de Timor-Leste, via Visit East Timor/The Timor-Leste Travel Guide.
My coffee came with a creation myth tonight. This one.
Many years ago a small crocodile lived in a swamp in a far away place. He dreamed of becoming a big crocodile but, as food was scarce, he became weak and grew sadder and sadder.
He left for the open sea, to find food and realize his dream, but the day became increasingly hot and he was still far from the seashore. The little crocodile – rapidly drying out and now in desperation – lay down to die.
A small boy took pity on the stranded crocodile and carried him to the sea. The crocodile, instantly revived, was grateful.
“Little boy”, he said, “you have saved my life. If I can ever help you in any way, please call me. I will be at your command…”
A few years later, the boy called the crocodile, who was now big and strong. “Brother Crocodile”, he said, “I too have a dream. I want to see the world”“Climb on my back,” said the crocodile, “and tell me, which way do you want to go?”
“Follow the sun”, said the boy.
The crocodile set off…and they traveled the oceans for years, until one day the crocodile said to the boy, “Brother, we have travelled for a long time. But now the time has come for me to die. In memory of your kindness, I will turn myself into a beautiful island, where you and your children can live until the sun sinks in the sea.”
As the crocodile died, he grew and grew, and his rigid back became the mountains and his scales the hills of Timor.
Now when the people of East Timor swim in the ocean, they enter the water saying “Don’t eat me crocodile, I am your relative”.
I like it when that happens.
This brew of coffee is a new item on the menu here at B&N. It’s a “single origin” coffee and that point of origin is East Timor or, more formally, Timor-Leste. Single origin coffees, the baristas have informed me, are better than the usual stuff I drink because, the beans being all from the same place, they have a more consistent flavor. I have to take their word for it. I wouldn’t know. As much coffee as I drink, you’d think I’d be a connoisseur. I’m not. And I’m pretty easily satisfied. As our old pal Chris the Cop knows to his frustration and dismay, I think McDonald’s serves the best coffee in the world. It happens to be true, but the point is I’m not a coffee snob. This new brand is called, straight-forwardly, East Timor Tatamailau. The baristas describe the coffee as “a rich dark roast with herbal notes and a cocoa finish.” I can’t hear the notes or see the finish, so to speak. Like I said, I’m not a connoisseur. But it tastes pretty good.
Tatatmailau is the tallest mountain on the island of Timor, which, by the way, is home to two nations, Timor-Leste comprises half the island. The other half is politically part of Indonesia. There have been problems arising from that.
A “rich dark roast with herbal notes and a cocoa finish” is straight off the package. The baristas are required to give a little spiel that includes it when they’re serving so customers know they’re not getting the usual blends---they’re not getting a blend at all---and prepare themselves, hopefully with gustatory enthusiasm. One of the baristas is very enthusiastic about it herself. She’s getting a kick out of telling her customers what they’re getting. Actually, there’s a little self-mockery in her pitch. What she seems to be getting a kick out of is her own unabashed enthusiasm. She’s surprised at herself for being so interested in the product. It’s the creation myth that’s taken hold of her imagination. Now she wants to see the mountains of East Timor for herself. She wants to see if she can see the ridges on the crocodile’s back. She’s going to Google it on her next break. Maybe someday she’ll visit Timor-Leste and climb aboard his back herself.