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  • In some parts of Miami, coffee is not just coffee. It is a substance that inspires devotion, reverence, ritual. It is Cuban coffee: a shot of dark, sweet caffeine that, if consumed regularly over a period of years, can become the anchor of daily life. Every transition-- from sleep to waking, lunch to working, work to evening-- is punctuated by "a coffee." Walking down the street in Little Havana, nearly every block holds sonic reminders of the obsession. You hear the grind of beans, hiss of the machine, and the pounding of a barista tamping down the espresso. It's omnipresent.

    One winter afternoon, I find myself in the kitchen of a local musician, Canadian by birth, not Cuban. His coffee fanaticism has reached such a level that he has found a machine on eBay which came straight out of a Cuban cafeteria. He's perfected his process. And this is is just as well, because he estimates that he needs a good 9 to 12 shots before playing a show.

    "It's sort of like being a heroin addict," he says,"where you need a certain amount just to be able to function. So I don't really get too jittery from it, but if I don't have any I don't even want to move or talk or do anything..."
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