Noe Valley Voice April 1999

Total Ban on Coffee on 24th Street

By Tully Norton

At the request of a local neighborhood association, the city has extended the year-old coffee ban in stores to private homes. Twenty-fourth Street residents will no longer be allowed to brew or consume caffeine at home.

"We wanted Noe Valley to go back to being the sleepy little village it once was, and there were just too many people making and drinking coffee on 24th Street," said Rusty "Red" Zinger, president of the Constant Comments of Castro Club.

To enforce the new law, San Francisco's Coffee Cops, a lesser-known arm of the city's vice squad, conducted an early-morning raid of kitchens from Dolores to Diamond Street, rounding up over 200 suspects and confiscating beans, measuring scoops, Creamora, thermoses, and other coffee paraphernalia.

"They busted me for only having a lid, for God's sake!" said Martha of the 3800 block of 24th Street. "Okay I confess, I had a pound of Colombian," said Martha's brother.

Police Captain Ken Starrbuck said there had been so many infractions, he'd asked California Governor Earl Gray to send in troops to help fight the War on Grind.

"We can't allow double lattes to fall into the wrong hands," said Starrbuck, sipping from a cup of Sleepytime at Lovejoy's Tea Total Room. "Kids start young, maybe a cup of warm milk with a few drops of coffee and sugar. Before you know it, they've moved on to half-caf, half-jolt, extra foam, chocolate sprinkles. Pretty soon they're drinking triple shots."

According to Starrbuck, many local caffeine addicts have taken their habit underground. And illegal perculatoriums have sprung up throughout Noe Valley. "We've found Melitta filters buried in compost piles," said Starrbuck's wife Spinella. "We booked 17 Mr. Coffees into the evidence room just yesterday."

Capt. Starrbuck said he'd observed Noe Valley families making "buys" in Dolores Park, where French Roast is now selling for $35 per pound. "The worst thing is, who's going to take care of all the 'beanie babies' born to these mothers?"

He said those caught would have their mugs taken, and be booked and treated at a clinic run by reformed coffee pusher Dr. Joe Sumatra. Sumatra's center focuses on a five-step program: surrender, regret, denial, bitterness, and hot water with lemon.

Still, the ban on coffee has left many Noe Valley residents on edge. Mrs. Olsen of Elizabeth Street told the paper, "When coffee is outlawed, only outlaws will have buzzes." She and other members of Perk Up will hold a rally at Java 'n' Frogs 'n' Stuff this Saturday (if they're not too sleepy). The Hills Brothers will speak at the event, which organizers estimate will be "grande."

"We have grounds for our ire," said Mrs. Olsen. "If we can't have our daily grind, then we'll just have to start roasting politicians."