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United States - Industrial Age: Instant
Instant coffee was first invented in 1901 and achieved mass distribution by 1906—an apt way to begin a century that would be marked by change and increasing speed in almost all facets of our lives. But, as we would discover about so many things, faster doesn’t always mean better. Still, the reduction of flavor quality and freshness didn’t seem to affect its popularity and coming generations would often first acquire a taste for coffee through its whorishly fast cousin. Even after palates become more sophisticated, sometimes instant is still a welcome sight for the bleary-eyed worker who has little time to spare after hitting the snooze bar one too many times.
Interpretation: Once, while chatting with a friend in the lounge of a Japanese hotel, I was charged $8.75 for a cup of coffee, which, when it finally arrived, turned out to be a china cupful of hot water and a small envelope of Sanka. It can be this kind of disappointment that Instant represents—lots of promises & inflated costs with weak follow-through. Still, sometimes a quick fix is all you need to keep going, so this may be a signal for you to make the most of a bad situation. Sure, you could pass on it altogether but, as the saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers. That doesn’t mean you have to settle permanently however. Don’t dally, move on to the next thing. Bigger and better things may be just round the corner, at which time you can get picky about things, but for now you’ve got to take what you can get.

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