The year is 1881. The southern territory of Texas was the main thoroughfare for the coffee beans imported to America from the growers in Costa Rica, Columbia and Vera Cruz, Mexico. The supply chain began with burros and horses and then were loaded on to trains heading for the Texas border. The Java and Robusta beans had become the favorite for Americans living in the West as they were affordable and plentiful.
The whistlestop in Eagle Pass Maverick County was usually a sleepy town with a peaceful population of farmers, cattle ranchers, blacksmiths and barkeeps. Today the 3 p.m. train from Mexico roared over the border with a load of coffee beans headed for Austin where the New Texas Coffee Company would roast and grind the load for sale at a handsome profit.
But today was no ordinary day. Because today the train would be stopped and inconveniently met by the Coffee Kid and his gang, who have placed railroad ties across the track and guns pointed at the engine cab where a bewildered engineer in charge slams on the brakes. When the train comes to a screeching halt, the engineer peers out to his left.
“Good day, Mister,” the Coffee Kid announces.
“What do you want? We don’t have no gold on this train,” the engineer replies.
The Coffee Kid laughs. “We don’t want no stinking gold. We want the beans.”
“You’re kidding?” the engineer chortles.
“Oh no, we are not. Come on boys, back up the wagons.” Three large horse-drawn wagons move next to the boxcars. “Now open your cargo doors, sir. This won’t take long, I hope,” the Kid orders.
The engineer hops out and walks back two cars and waves to his conductors with a shrug of his shoulders, “Okay boys, open ’em up.” And with that, the doors open and the cargo of coffee beans are loaded onto the wagons at gunpoint, one burlap bag at a time. When the job is done, the wagons drive off into the hills with the gang and only the Coffee Kid remains high on his horse, pistols drawn.
“Much obliged, sir. You all have a nice rest of the day,” he cheerfully offers. As he turns to ride off, the engineer calls out, “Who are you, anyway?”
“You can just call me… the Coffee Kid.”
At the offices of the Pinkerton Detective Agency in Chicago, Allen J. Pinkerton meets with his best men in a large conference room lined with maps and photographs of most wanted outlaws. “Men, we must stop and capture the Coffee Kid. He and his gang have now robbed more than a million dollars worth of coffee and we still don’t know his identity.”
“We have a lead out of Arizona that he’s planning to rob the Western Mill and Refinery sometime next week,” says Detective Maurice Potter, a senior member of the team. “Funny thing is, they never take the cash, just the beans. It’s crazy.”
“Yes,” Pinkerton replies. “This guy must really like coffee.”
“I sent four of my best men in the territory to coordinate his capture,” Potter confirms. “If they can’t get him, America will run out of coffee by month’s end, so our mission is of critical importance.”
Tombstone, Arizona, is a silver-mining and cattle ranching center that also houses some of the most hardened outlaws in the West. Rumor has it that Wyatt Earp and his brothers, Virgil and Morgan, along with Doc Holliday were all in town to capture notorious stagecoach robbing and cattle rustling outlaws Tom and Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton. Coincidentally and unbeknownst to them, the Coffee Kid and his gang were headed into Tombstone at the same time.
It’s a cool March night when the Coffee Kid gang set up camp just outside of town after a long day’s riding with their most recent haul of very special Arabica beans shipped in all the way from Hawaii. The Kid slits open a bag of the precious haul and scoops up a handful of the beans. “Ummm,” he put them to his nose and smells them. “I really like my job. How ’bout you fellas?” They all chime in agreement. “Put these on the fire, Eustice, we’ll have some tonight after dinner.”
The next afternoon, the Coffee Kid and his gang leisurely rode into Tombstone. The Kid was sipping some of last night’s Arabica brew in a tin cup. Unfortunately, his timing could not have been worse as they approached the O.K. Corral on the west side of town. It seems that was the exact moment that Wyatt Earp and the other lawmen were about to have a shootout with the outlaws. As the Coffee Kid turned the corner round the horse barn, the bullets began to fly.
This caught the gang by surprise. The Kid had just taken a sip from his cup when he lowered the cup and heard a ding. Coffee was flowing out of a hole in the cup. When he looked down, he saw that the hole went through the front of the cup to the back of the cup and into his chest. Suddenly everything was going dark.
And that was the end of the Coffee Kid.
When the Pinkerton men were notified by the local sheriff to collect the body of the Coffee Kid, they arrived at the local funeral parlor where the Kid lay in a plain pine casket. “So this is the Coffee Kid,” Detective Jones remarks to his partner.”
“Yes,” replied the undertaker, “ironically he was drinking a cup of coffee when the bullet hit him and he fell off his horse.”
“So it is true what they say,” Jones replied.
“What’s that?” asks the undertaker.
“Coffee is good to the last drop.”