art.: The Coffee Helpers in The New Yorker, December 17, 2018.

coffee help


New Yorker Images

If you believe in Santa, this writer doesn’t, and the idea that one man must travel in one night to to deliver presents, then the only way it could possibly happen according to this illustrator is with a little help from his friends – shots of caffeine with a micro amount of water.

For the December 17th issue of The New Yorker, artist John Cuneo puts Santa in a cafe where the barista at the  bar pulls him shot after shot – 13 on the counter and another one coming as reindeers look on from a snowy outside as Santa is warm and caffeinated. Because this culture is interested in how coffee influences contemporary culture, it tuned into what Cuneo had to say about the illustration.

“Christmas seems like such a brutal gig. When I was a child, in Jersey, I would be very worried about the logistics: the weather, the mileage, the size of the sack, the width of the chimney. Back then, we would leave milk and cookies out. But now I realize that caffeine would be essential… On the night before Christmas, the only thing stirring should be Santa with a café americano, a spoon, and maybe a little half-and-half.”

What I, this writer finds appealing is the illustrators own confession for caffeine in his life which mirrors many a coffee drinkers life when the habit enables us to do our creative and professional functions despite the hours.

Said, Cuneo, “I find coffee as indispensable as pen and ink. It’s mandatory, it’s a crutch, it’s a reward, it’s kind of pathetic. Over many years of trial and error, I’ve developed a keen sense of the maximum amount of caffeine I can pour into my system and still be able hold a watercolor brush without shaking.”

Given how much a life will at various times need to burn the midnight oil, or creative time, an americano is as necessary a diluted coffee as when it was invented – to cater to the American palette that wanted coffee according to their own strength and lesser than the Italian’s take on it while serving in WWII – Sep 1, 1939 – Sep 2, 1945 – in Italy.

When do you find yourself drinking copious amounts of your preferred coffee beverage?