In Praise of Cheap Coffee

With prices for a simple cup of coffee approaching $4.00 at some national coffee-tailers -- and my own addiction to espresso leading to a recent home appliance purchase that cost as much as a low-end HDTV (check it, sucka) -- it's high time to look back with nostalgic fondness at the cheap coffee of the past, some of which is still being served.

Where can I get this cheap coffee, you ask? If you live in Los Angeles, you're in luck; there are several spots. A little Googling found a few more spread around the country -- rare finds worth a visit if only to shake the owner's hand and say, "thanks!" (By the way, if you can find a cheaper cup, let us know. We're there.)

25-cent coffee

There are at least two places to get coffee for a quarter these days: McDonald's, provided you're a senior and can prove it, and a little joint in Phoenix, Arizona called Chloe's Corner. (Unlike most cheap-coffee emporiums, where the price of coffee is a holdover from days gone by, Chloe's opened recently, in 2005. It's called retro-chic, apparently.) Pictured at right: not McDonald's.

20-cent coffee

20-cent coffee is a little harder to come by: apparently, it's not a number that appeals to restaurant owners. As of this Googling, however, there were just two places I could find that offered it: Ethiopia (where, like everything probably, the Macchiatos are cheap), and at Portland, Oregon's Pearl Street Bakery -- though unfortunately this seems to have been a temporary promotion (but I bet if you go there and guilt-trip them about it, they'll cave and give you some 20-cent coffee anyway).

15-cent coffee

coffee.jpgAlhambra, California's The Hat has been around since 1951, and their coffee has been $0.15 ever since then. (At right is a snap of their menu to prove it.) But what The Hat is really proud of is their pastrami (their website claims that Hat customers "consume 15 tons of pastrami every year"), and their over-the-top specialties like Pastrami Chili Cheese Fries with Pickles and Tomato special, which will not only blow your gut, but your mind, as well:

9-cent coffee

now_photo4.gifOne major benefit of living in Los Angeles is Phillipe the Original, now the oldest restaurant in the city (circa 1908) and one of several claimants to the title of "inventor of the French Dipped sandwich." Their coffee is and always has cost just nine cents. I'll let Pulitzer-winning food critic Jonathan Gold tell you more:

"Sawdust on the floors, clown pictures on the wall, long communal tables crowded with cops, politicians and recent parolees from the nearby county jail, Philippe is so much a relic of prewar Los Angeles that sometimes it feels as if it isn't really a part of Los Angeles at all, as if it belongs to an older city without neon, chrome or arugula. The French-dipped sandwiches of lamb or beef are wet and rich, with something of the gamy animal pungency of old-fashioned roast meat. There is an oddly wonderful selection of wines by the glass — try the Silver Oaks cabernet sauvignon. And if you enjoy the sight of eyes bulging and nostrils flaring as people encounter depth charges of ultrahot mustard in their sandwiches, there's even something of a floor show."

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Photo by Ryan of Losanjealous.

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College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy
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One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

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North America: East or West Coast?
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