I was never what you would call a coffee aficionado. I didn’t even taste my first cup of that viscous substitute for a daily dose of Ex Lax and amphetamine until I was thirty five years old; I had begun making coffee a few years earlier in an attempt to rouse my newly found wife at what I considered to be a reasonable hour…that is, anytime before the crack of noon. As for myself, I was always one of those annoying people whose eyes fly open at the initial cheep of the first titmouse or red breasted gross beak (by the way, have you ever noticed how many birds have sexually suggestive names? red and yellow breasted , ruby throated, wagtails, titmice, even the dusky thrush gives me impure thoughts…Jesus, I gotta get laid more.).
But let’s put sexually suggestive ornithological nomenclature aside, which I really should since I was talking about coffee. My point is I’m an early riser and in order to be able to actually see my brides eyes anytime before nightfall I resorted to artificial stimulants, i.e.: caffeine. Unfortunately for me this set a precedent that has led me to bring my wife coffee in bed every day for the last fifteen years. Our friends think I’m a romantic and solicitous husband which I do nothing to contradict, but the reality is that I’m an incredibly self-serving jerk who can’t stand to see anyone sleeping when I’m awake.
The whole problem started about three years into my coffee brewing career. I always enjoyed the smell/scent/odor/aroma of a fresh brewed cuppa joe and after making a pot of the stuff every day for a thousand plus days I decided it was time for me to give the sludgy black stuff a try. It sucked, but as I’ve always done with anything that was bad for me I kept at it until I developed a taste for it. Now, even though I still open my eyes at first light of day, I can’t wake myself up anymore without the buzz of two and a half gallon sized mugs. My Doctor tells me that a couple of cups in the morning might actually be good for me; it’s the guys who drink twenty or thirty cups a day that have problems, but that’s not the point. Actually, none of what I’ve written so far is the point but that’s what you get when your editor asks for a thousand words. The real point is that even after fifteen years I still have no idea how to make a decent pot of coffee.
Here’s how I do it: I crawl out of bed just as the eastern sky develops the glow of dawn,
stumble downstairs and let the stupid dogs out, then head to the coffee maker. I grab the bag of organically shade grown fair trade coffee from the freezer, empty the left over motor oil from the morning before and give the pot a quick rinse, add new tap water and toss some new coffee in a new filter and start to brew. Having never had coffee before I started to make it myself I had no idea how it was supposed to taste. My wife, being one small step from comatose in the mornings never actually tasted my coffee either, at least not consciously. Imagine my surprise when a friend of mine who once spent years living in Seattle came to visit. Seattle, as we all know is the Mecca for coffee and the home of Starbucks. She watched in horror as I slopped the pre ground coffee beans into the filter.
“Don’t you measure the amount you put in?” she asked, eyes wide in disbelief.
“Yeah, of course I measure,” I replied testily, “I fill the filter about half way.”
“I mean, don’t you use a measuring spoon?”
“A measuring spoon? What are you, some kind of Republican?” I accuse grumpily as I fill the pot with room temperature tap water.
“You should buy one of those little grinders. That way the beans stay fresh longer.”
“Just what I need…the sound of power tools first thing in the morning.”
She shook her head. We’ve been friends for twenty five plus years…she should have known better. Still, she tried again, “You know, it would taste better if you used ice cold spring water.”
“It would taste better if I just drank the ice cold spring water and left out the damn coffee completely, but no one is suggesting I do that now, are they?”
“I think I’ll make a nice cup of tea instead.,” she said, shuddering slightly.
Increasingly, we live in a country of specialty and gourmet food and drink. Cafe Breve Mocha Valencia, Caramel Macchiato and the list goes depressingly on and on. It’s important to remember one important fact: it’s just a fucking cup of coffee folks, so get over it and drink up. People who use something like coffee to prove they’re cool really aren’t. It’s akin to believing that Pre Emptive Liberation is a wise foreign policy course or that allowing thousands of people to die of painful lingering diseases in order to save a stem cell, is what God would want. ( My Editor was right…I can’t write a simple humor piece anymore without spewing out some radical political venom. The truth is, George W. Bush is indeed responsible for bad coffee everywhere and should be impeached because of it. Damn, I’m never gonna get that coveted slot writing for the Living Section.)
So, if we can learn any lessons from this missive, the main one would be that if you’re planning on dropping by, wait till lunch.
(Authors Note: Up till the word “lunch” I had only managed to eat up 945 words, so please bear with me while I work my way up to the full thousand. It’s not anything as mercenary as I’m getting paid by the word, it’s just that a promise is a promise and I’m there now.)