Here are five things I do to my coffee to make it taste a little bit different.

1. With cream and sugar

This is how I usually take my coffee. I’ll pour in a little cream or milk, then toss in a couple packets of sugar. Or vice-versa, depending on whatever’s closest. Then I stir the coffee with a spoon or straw if one’s handy. It really doesn’t matter as long as everything gets mixed together. At this point I’ll taste the coffee to check whether I’ve added enough cream and sugar. If I haven’t, I’ll add a little more. It’s only coffee, mind you, and Donald Trump is still president.

2. Just cream

Sometimes I’ll just add a splash of cream to my morning brew, maybe milk if that’s the carafe I happen to grab. I prefer non-fat milk, but whole milk is fine, too. Or two percent. Anyway, I add enough so that the coffee turns light brown, but it’s not like that’s a deal breaker. One time the carafe lid fell off and I accidentally added so much cream that my coffee turned completely white. It was thick and totally undrinkable, but it made the coffee taste so strange, so unlike anything I’ve ever had before, that I downed it all in one desperate gulp. I think about that morning a lot.

3. Just sugar

There’s nothing groundbreaking about this one. Instead of only adding cream, I’ll only add sugar. If I taste it and it’s not sweet enough, no big deal, I’ll just add more. The sugar I like best is the stuff in the brown packets. I forget what it’s called, but I like it more than the sugar in the blue or yellow ones. If they don’t have the brown packet sugar, I’ll go with the blue packet. I don’t remember its name either. The yellow packet sugar is my least favorite. That said, if the place I’m at only has the yellow packets, I’ll use those. They all give you cancer, anyway. Everything gives you cancer.

4. Scalding hot and thrown directly into my stupid, worthless face

On mornings when I’m feeling especially indulgent, I’ll ask the barista to heat my coffee to a blistering 135 degrees, usually by microwaving it for several minutes. Then, after absolving them of any and all legal responsibility, I firmly instruct them to throw the cup of java right into my dumb, pathetic, good-for-nothing face. And for one euphoric moment, a slice of time so brief the human mind can barely register it, I feel alive. Everything I am, have been, and will be is filtered through this most exquisite pain. I become The Pain, and The Pain becomes me. Everything else falls away: the newspaper headlines, the presidential tweets, the rising sea levels, the threat of nuclear annihilation, every first date with an “adventure enthusiast,” every urgent voicemail from a debt collector, every we’re looking for someone with a little more experience, every maybe you should get an MBA like your cousin Brice, every Instagrammed photo of my ex kissing his new boyfriend on a fucking boat or beneath a fucking waterfall or at the summit of a motherfucking mountain.

5. A light dusting of cinnamon

This makes the coffee kind of taste like cinnamon, but just a little bit. I don’t want it to taste too much like cinnamon, after all. That wouldn’t taste very good, but I suppose it might.

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