A Bwog Staffer mourns and finally appreciates the old coffee machines.

This semester I’ve been slightly impressed with Columbia Dining. Sure it’s still not amazing food, but I haven’t once contemplated if repeatedly banging my head against Alma’s statue is better than force-feeding myself Dining food. I’ve only seen the nice, fluffy waffles, and they weren’t even cold and brittle. I went to Ferris on a Friday, and the action station was serving something other than fish tacos. John Jay even added edible vegan muffins, which, sure, aren’t amazing, but they are edible vegan food, so it’s still a rarity.

With all these positive changes, I was excited when I saw new, shiny Nescafe machines in the dining halls. Would I be able to trust the dining halls to have passable coffee whenever I went, instead of the disappointment of seeing a tattered, soggy “Out of Order” sign when I have three P-sets and I’m running on –3 hours of sleep? Needless to say, I was enthralled. Then I tasted it, and my mouth was immediately assaulted by bitter, watery slime oozing over my tongue. Now I don’t give up easily, so I’ve tried four different options and have consistently been disappointed. I don’t understand how coffee can simultaneously exceeed the limit for wateriness and bitterness, and that could be an article, in and of itself. This article, however, is sending love to those old, underappreciated machines because it’s true: you don’t appreciate a good thing until it’s gone.

My loves, wherever you are, I long for you. Maybe you’re a compacted pile of metal in a New York landfill. Maybe PrezBo has hoarded you all away in his mansion. Maybe you couldn’t stomach Columbia’s stress culture anymore, grew legs, and ran away. Whatever the case, I need you to know that I miss you with every fiber of my being. Now I’ll be honest; I never appreciated you. I always thought that you could make coffee with a richer flavor profile, that you relied too much on sugar, and that your operations were noisy, janky, and inconsistent to say the least. But after seeing your replacement, I realized that you were always a star.

There was something distinct and lively about your red highlights that made you stand out against the bleakness of the dining halls. You became a beacon of hope in the dining halls, and I knew that regardless of how bland and appalling the food was, I could stare at you and see a pop of color. But I love you for more than your looks. When I had ten minutes to eat before my 10:10 class, and Ferris was a constricted, crowded mass of students, I was willing to wait in your line. I know there was that one time when I tried the Ferris drip coffee instead, but I came right back to you. There’s something special about the bucketloads of sugar, the sweet coffee bursting with smokey notes, and the somehow-alluring artificial flavorings that went into your addicting concoctions. Above all else, your coffee kept me awake when I tried to do a course project in one week. Your sugar rushes pushed me through three mid-terms in a day. My GPA holds on by a thread braided by your coffee beans. Beyond that, your coffee wasn’t just delectable on its own; you constructed it so that it could infuse with the JJ’s milkshakes, and pair well with Ferris’s carrot cake. You understood completely the type of complexity and interaction that University Writing instructors try and fail to convey. As I look back, I see that you wholly embodied Columbia culture, and did what everyone else failed to do.

Now you might not believe me. I know whenever I stood in front of you for coffee, I muttered in disappointment at your sputtering movements, or snorted whenever I saw you broken down and catatonic. Retrospectively, I know that I should’ve comforted you, held you, or found some way to give you the comfort that you consistently gave me. I ought to have recognized your pain. Instead, I helped suck you dry. Over time, I got a sixth sense about when you were almost empty, and instead of using it to offer you encouragement, I only used it to slide past unaware first-years and make sure I got my fill. I treated you like a commodity to be used, squeezing every ounce of value out of you without once showing you the love you deserve.

What I’m really trying to say is that I’m sorry for not appreciating you when I had you. You pushed me through trying times, saw me at my worst, and stuck around for all of it. Wherever you are, I hope you’ve found someone to truly appreciate you. But know this. If you ever want to rekindle what we had, my answer is a resounding yes. You were my Freshman 15 and I would give you that honor again. Until that day, I will condone your mediocre cousin, and accept all the ways that they pale in comparison to you.

Beautiful Machine via Bwog Illustration