Writing Prompt #71 — The Golden Cup of Coffee

Prompt: There is a legend about a man who lives high on a treacherous mountain who will brew the most delightful, delicious, invigorating cup of coffee for anyone brave and strong enough to climb the mountain. You’re a rich, adventurous youth, and you want to know the secret of this legendary brew.

The stout, old man sits on a small plush stool in the center of his home on the mountain. Dozens of bags, full and spilling, of coffee lean against the walls, except for a door in the back, behind a counter where a coffeepot and three porcelain cups sit. The aroma of the beans is almost overwhelming, a wave of dozens of different roasts and flavors and scents. I am tempted to cover my nose, but I don’t want to appear weak.

“So, you’ve come for the Golden Cup of Coffee, too? Like the ones before you?”

I nod. “But not just that — I’ve come to purchase the recipe as well.” My grip on the suitcase handle tightens.

He shakes his liver-spotted head. “That is not for sale. You have traveled great heights to reach here, so you will be rewarded with a cup — nothing more, nothing less.”

I shake my head. “That’s not how this’ll work. I’m a rich man. I could buy this mountain, this home, and everything inside it, but I don’t want to do that. The rumor is that the Golden Cup of Coffee possess unworldly powers, and I just want to know how it’s made, that’s all.”

The man stands slowly from his stool, his knees popping and cracking. He raises a gnarled cane from the ground and props himself against him. “You’re not the first person to offer me money. Nothing here is for sale.”

My temples begin to throb, and I start to grind my teeth. Just take the money, old man.

“Money has no value here,” he says, smiling, “but since you have traveled such a long way, I will show you how the secret ingredient. Does this suit you?”

I crack my jaw, nod. “Yes, fine — if that’s all you can do.”

I follow the old man past the counter and to the door in the back. He places his palm flat beneath the copper doorknob and a click issues from it, then he pushes it open. With a wave of his hand, he says, “Follow.”

I step into a dark room, unable to see anything but the floor beneath my feet, lit only by the light spilling from the main room. I turn back to the man, who I think is still by the door, the door slams shut and clicks, and the room is awash in a golden light. I wince and cover my eyes with my arm, facing the room again. After the light dims, I can see the man standing near a large vat of swirling, sparkling golden liquid. Up close, I smell honey, coffee, milk, a tinge of citrus.

“This is what gives my coffee what you call unworldly powers,” he says.

I lean over the rim, staring deeply into the almost cosmic looking liquid. “What’s it made from?” I ask. If I could figure out that, then maybe I could have it created. I wouldn’t have to buy it from this old man.

“Greed,” I hear him say before my feet are lifted from the ground, and all I can see, taste, inhale is gold.

Read my previous prompt, “In the Shadows of Stars.”

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