Sunday, September 14, 2003

What's the buzz?

Espresso's no luxury, folks

The Associated Press

SEATTLE - This city's devotion to the almighty coffee bean runs smack into its liberal conscience as a proposed tax on espresso drinks goes to voters Tuesday.

Seattle residents will face a ballot question asking them to add a dime-a-cup tax to their espresso drinks.

This "luxury" tax, as Initiative 77 calls it, would pay for preschool and day-care programs.

But for many espresso lovers in a city that helped push the gourmet coffee revolution, the proposal is nothing short of heresy.

"This is not a luxury," 34-year-old tech-support worker Rob Marker said solemnly, hoisting his iced vanilla mocha outside the hip cafe Coffee Messiah.

Security guard C. J. Lessig, between sips of her iced coconut mocha, agreed.

"It's a way of life, man!"

"Here I am, forced to pay more for my basic necessity to fund irresponsibility," said Marker, warming to the topic.

Initiative 77 would tax only espresso drinks, such as lattes and cappuccinos, not drip coffee.

Even proponents understand that caffeine is a basic food group here.

According to the initiative, the tax would apply to "any beverage prepared for immediate consumption containing half an ounce or more of espresso regardless of caffeine content, whether served hot or cold."

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