The world's most insane coffee drinker

I can't stop thinking about this man's elaborate coffee setup.

Hello!

Not gonna lie. I love having this newsletter as a means of communicating with all you nice folks through the magic of electronic mail. It’s also been an essential lifeline to me not going completely destitute. (Thank you to the people who pay to subscribe!) But lately, like many of you, I’ve been going through swings of anxiety and I am hesitant to whip out the ol’ typebox when it’s at its highest because I don’t want to pass my anxiety on to you. 

Most of my anxiety lately has been the direct result of reading the internet for 26 hours a day. Scrolling through 10,000 bad opinions each hour pushes my brain to have arguments in my head with people I do and do not know. I imagine what these people’s beliefs must be on any given issue and how that conflicts with my beliefs on said issue and what I would say to them if I were to see them and how they’d then respond and what my counterpoint to that would be. This goes on for infinity until I finally fall asleep at which point I continue the argument in my dreams while grinding my teeth and when I wake up my molars have turned to dust. Very healthy! 

The only reprieve I’ve gotten has been FaceTiming with friends. I recently spent a good hour or so talking with my friend Annalise and we fell into a rabbit hole discussing the only story over the last month that has successfully made me forget everything else in the world. I would like to share said story with you now in the hopes that it will also provide you some brief escapism. So please, journey with me in this email into the bizarre, baffling world of…

The World’s Most Insane Coffee Drinker

In case you’re unfamiliar with the name Jerry Saltz, he is a 69-year-old man (nice) who has a fairly prestigious job as New York Magazine’s senior art critic. Jerry lives in Manhattan (and from what I can gather possibly also has a place in Connecticut) with his wife Roberta Smith, who is a fellow art critic over at the New York Times. Also, her name sounds like if you tried to come up with a persona for the singer of an all-female The Cure cover band but didn’t bother thinking about it too hard.

Anyway, I wasn’t very familiar with Jerry until this image came across my feed:

“Well that’s weird,” I thought. I mean, I would find this weird at any time in history, but especially now, given that it has been stressed by countless officials how important it is to stay indoors unless absolutely essential. Why would a man need to go to a gas station in the middle of a pandemic to buy 18 individual cups of coffee? Well, apparently, I’ve been very behind on this story and many people already know that this eccentric coffee habit is sort of Jerry’s “thing.” 

One Twitter user did the yeoman’s work of rounding up a bunch of Jerry’s weird coffee tweets. Let’s dive into them, shall we? Let’s start with this one as it reveals the method behind the madness:

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There’s a lot to unpack here. Jerry is giving us the blueprint for his coffee-acquiring system, which is that he goes to the deli at night, buys a bunch of individual cups of coffee, comes home, stores them in his fridge, takes them out the next morning, and pours them into a 7-Eleven Big Gulp cup and drinks it through a metal straw. Wooooooo boy lots of questions here.

First, I’m going to point out the obvious that this seems incredibly wasteful. Ah! But Jerry literally has that covered. “All plastic tops kept for car-coffee.” Alright, so he’s keeping the lids (they’re called lids, Jerry, not tops), but what about the cups? I spy 11 cups here. If he’s keeping the 11 lids, is he also keeping the 11 cups? I assume not since he’s saying “almost no waste.” What else would the waste be? The empty Stevia packages? I don’t think so.

Alright, though, I’m willing to go along with it. But even if his insanely elaborate method of getting coffee was journeying to a bodega at night to load up for the morning, why wouldn’t he just buy it in one big container of coffee instead of filling up 11 individual and difficult-to-transport cups like an absolute psychopath? If he’s saying he has 7-Eleven Big Gulp cups, then why not buy one of those comically gigantic 100-ounce plastic refillable mugs they sell there? 100 ounces is a lot! That’s almost three liters of fucking coffee, Jerry!

At this point you may have found yourself so swept up in this contrived little world of lids and tops and car-coffee and Big Gulp cups and metal straws that you might have overlooked the very obvious question: Why doesn’t Jerry just make the fucking coffee at home? Ah, he has an answer:

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Alright let’s just overlook the question of why anyone would buy decaf coffee and go through such elaborate lengths to separate decaf from regular coffee in two different types of wasteful bodega cups. Let us also overlook that the interior of his fridge appears to be dripping with easily preventable coffee stains. (God just IMAGINE what the inside of this man’s car looks like.) Let’s instead focus on the heart of the matter casually dropped at the end of this madness: “Don’t know how 2 make coffee.” OK what. WHAT? WHATTT?!??? We’re going to have to come back to that because I can’t wrap my head around it right now. Moving on…

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Above is an insight about Jerry’s motivation for this insanity. He prides himself on drinking coffee as a Writer Fuel. Hey, don’t get me wrong. I am also a writer who drinks a hefty amount of coffee each day and enjoys the romanticism of long nights on deadline with a mug of trusty caffeine guiding my typing fingers as they deliver my brilliance onto the page. The difference is I don’t drive to the Mobil station to drink stale day-old swill and instead just pour it out of a pot like a normal fucking human. 

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Above is a peek into Jerry’s travel setup. Instead of purchasing a reusable travel mug which are available for under $20 at any store, Jerry brings along what appears to be THREE Big Gulp cups and a seltzer bottle full of coffee. Just fucking put the coffee directly into the Big Gulp cup and ditch the Seltzer bottle, you absolute psycho what the fuck!

This is all insane behavior, obviously. Not the mark of an eccentric genius as he’d like to portray, but stupid and wasteful and the most time-consuming, inefficient way humanly possible to get coffee inside your body. Surely, the people in his life must have attempted to stage some sort of personal intervention, I began thinking. Maybe his fellow New York Mag coworkers have gifted him a coffee maker for Secret Santa around the holidays. Well, my doggedly observant pal Annalise screenshotted a now-deleted peek into Jerry’s home which might provide some insight into that:

His dishwasher, which he uses for storage purposes, houses what appears to be two pour-over coffee makers, a still-in-the-box Bialetti espresso maker, and several bags of coffee beans/grounds. Clearly the people in his life are trying to help him but he is so goddamn obstinate that he would prefer to drive to the convenience store every day and saunter out, balancing 10,000 individual cups of coffee like some sort of Benny Hill routine.

Annalise and I needed to know more about his personal life so we started googling around and found this interview with Jerry which funny enough was conducted by our old co-worker Hanson. Hanson probably couldn’t have predicted that when he asked the fairly innocuous question, “What did you have for breakfast today?” he would be getting such insane ramblings. Jerry also talked about the reaction to his coffee tweets:

“And what’s interesting to me is I often will post a picture of it, and people these days go batshit because they want to drink artisanal coffees or they tell me I should use special blends or special machines.”

That’s not the fucking issue, Jerry! No one is forcing you to drink a $6 latte! No one is objecting to your predilection for subpar quality coffee. It’s the absolutely mental habit of relying on a Mobil employee to put coffee in a pot because you have no clue how they got it in there.

“I explain to them that I don’t have those machines and I wouldn’t know how the hell they work in the first place because I’ve never had an assistant or anybody show me. I don’t have the time. I want my coffee.”

What machines, you idiot??? You put the grounds in a filter and pour hot water on it!! That’s it!! There are no machines!!! Also, what “time” don’t you have??? It takes less than five minutes to make! How is driving to the bodega and loading up 11 coffee cups any quicker??? Here is a video I found on YouTube explaining how to make pour over coffee. If you watch it one time it will save you countless nights driving to and from the gas station for coffee for the rest of your life. The video is only two minutes and 43 seconds long and I can probably even condense it down to three seconds: JUST POUR IT OVER!!

Looking further into this, I found an in-depth interview about Jerry’s coffee habits in International Magazine Centre, in which he says that it takes him 12 minutes to drive to the service station for coffee. OK so, 12 minutes there, 12 minutes back, plus the time filling up cup after cup of coffee, plus the time he surely spends punishing the poor service station employee who winces whenever Jerry walks through the door for his nightly cups of critic juice. That is 30 minutes each day on coffee, min-i-mum. How is that the fastest way to get coffee? Again, I am a barely functioning adult and I can make coffee in the time it takes this man to drive halfway to to the service station.

Here’s a quote from this interview that sticks out:

“And so there are a lot of things I don’t know how to do. I can’t spell. I can’t cook. I don’t speak any foreign languages. I barely read anything until I was much older—and one of the things I didn’t know how to do was make coffee. I could make tea.”

Jerry. If you can make tea, you can make coffee! Goddammit it’s just boiling water! This is like saying you know how to cook a hamburger but not a hot dog.

Here’s more about his method and his insistence on calling them tops instead of lids:

“And that’s how we do it. I buy a bunch of Seven- Eleven Double Gulp cups, and we wash and reuse them and the tops and the straws—everyone yells at me for ‘using too much plastic, Jerry!’ They’re the same cups we’ve used, you know, for a couple of years. And every morning I fill them up with ice and a little bit of milk, a little bit of coffee, a little bit of water and Sweet’n’Low or Stevia. Insert straw. Drink. That’s the ritual.”

OK hang on. Why are you putting water and ice in the coffee? Ice is water, Jerry! Just let nature do its thing and you don’t need to pour water in your goddamn coffee. Furthermore, is he saying he has used the same 7-Eleven Big Gulp cups “for a couple of years” or the paper gas station ones? Either way I’m calling bullshit. Paper cups disintegrate and there’s no way he’s getting more than a week out of one. Below is a photo from the aforementioned article of him filling up five cups. I’m sorry but those are new cups! He clearly took them from that stack right there! Plus they’re different from the ones in the above photos! Plus I’m willing to bet he gets a new styrofoam tray for them every time he goes. This is so fucking wasteful, Jerry! Stop fucking the planet!

Jerry Saltz

OK, so if he doesn’t reuse the paper cups, I’m guessing he’s saying that it’s the The Big Gulp cup he reuses. Sure, Big Gulp cups will last a little longer, but A COUPLE OF YEARS? That’s not healthy! The plastic erodes into the liquid! Just. Buy. A. Goddamn. Travel. Mug.

Here he is talking about inflicting his coffee habits on his wife:

“My wife, Roberta Smith, is the co-chief art critic for The New York Times, and our motto, in a way, is: ‘We are not part of this world.’ We are not part of society. It’s a tunnel-life for us, to be among the last five or six weekly art critics, writing and getting paid something for it.”

OK, although I actually find it very endearing that two art critic unicorns have found each other in the world and share the same idiosyncrasies, she is absolutely enabling him if she is going along with this insanity.

Jerry Saltz

Above is a photo of Jerry’s fridge. We’ve already dissected this setup, but I would like to examine the food he has in there. It appears he has some green beans, sweet potatoes, and grilled chicken in tupperware containers. Obviously I would not be surprised if he bought pre-cooked food and stored it in the fridge as he said that he can’t cook, but why is there a bag of frozen green beans in there? Is he making the green beans? If he can make green beans, he can make coffee!

Jerry Saltz

Here is a photo of Jerry’s “process” like he’s a goddamn deranged scientist pushing the limit’s of God’s will. If you look closely it appears he is double-stacking these Big Gulp cups. Jesus, this is so fucking elaborate and excessive. There is so much room on this counter for a Mr. Coffee.

Jerry Saltz

And lastly, here is a photo of Jerry at the deli with his haul of precious coffee. This brings me to an element of this whole charade we haven’t even touched: cost. How much is a large coffee from a gas station/bodega? Let’s estimate, with Manhattan inflation, two dollars. So, Jerry’s walking out with $10 worth of coffee here. A pot’s worth of coffee beans at home is probably, what, a buck? So he is losing $9, every single day. That is $3,285 he’s throwing away every year!

As I write this, a new interview with Jerry has gone up in The Observer. A quick ctrl+f for “coffee” netted zero results so there’s no chance I’m reading it. It’s apparently about “how to be an artist in a new and unfamiliar world.” Sorry, but I refuse to take creative advice from someone who is too stubborn to learn how to boil water. Unless… maybe this whole coffee ignorance is one long piece of performance art. Maybe it’s Jerry’s commentary on the wastefulness and excess of American consumerism in late-stage capitalism. Or maybe he’s just an obtuse idiot.