My life has taken me on a course best fueled by coffee. Wine and whiskey are great, but coffee does something to me at the end of the night that makes me feel better when I wake up in the morning. So many important memories are tagged with coffee. For example, visits to Mexico meant sitting at someone’s round dining table while a relative boiled water with a cinnamon stick to make “cafe de olla.” Also, though this is not a particularly popular date option, meeting a guy for coffee was always better than trying to scream at each other over the noise of a loud bar.
One particularly unpopular memory is the time that the guy I was dating years ago very arrogantly remarked on whether I was drinking “real” coffee when I went to Starbucks with my friends. He thought himself superior to me because he drank it black, completely forsaking espresso beverages topped with foam or steamed milk. The fool. Little did he know that my palate was wise to the taste of black coffee, having the ability to distinguish which blends were sweeter than others and, more importantly, that Starbucks purposely over roasts its beans. I know good coffee, and I know bad coffee. I also know that good people will always have coffee for their guests, even if they are not coffee drinkers themselves.
I’ve visited with families who have used a variety of coffee makers, some seemingly fancier that others. One friend’s mother is the proud owner of a large machine that grinds the beans at the top, dumps them down, then brews a delicious carafe of life-saving nectar. His sister-in-law had a device to help brew one cup at a time directly into a mug with a cone-shaped filter.
My best friend bought me a french press for my birthday and I felt a huge amount of satisfaction when pouring hot water right over the grinds and watching dark foam appear. Even more enticing was the process of pushing down the filter and watching the coffee sift up after I determined just how strong I wanted it. For less than $8, I was in heaven.
Unfortunately, the glass container of my french press slipped out of my hands and cracked when it fell against the sink.
At the time, my regular coffee maker was no longer brewing properly and would take more than 15 minutes to brew a pot. I improvised by putting grinds into a filter and holding it carefully over my mug as I slowly poured hot water over it. The coffee tasted just fine, but often I would burn my fingers while wringing the rest of the hot water out the filter. Not ideal!
Eventually, a friend bought me a Keurig machine. I was beyond excited, especially because I never thought to treat myself to such a device. I fantasized about keeping it in my room so that I could make coffee as soon as I woke up every morning. It proved fantastic for a while. I’d shake off the sleep, take my morning shower, then prepare my coffee while I was still in my robe. I could then put on my makeup while my cup brewed. This was fun for a while, until I ran out of k-cup samples.
The same friend who treated me to this fun device also gave me my first Aeropress. I had heard about it from two other friends but had never seen or used one before. It took very little practice to master its use. Along with an electric tea kettle, the Aeropress helped me make delicious cups of coffee with very little time and minimal effort.
Sometimes when I go to Starbucks, I feel a little guilty knowing that I have a Keurig and an Aeropress waiting for me at home. I think, why should I spend $2-$4 on coffee today when I could just make it myself? But then I think about how I’m acquiring stars in the hopes of reaching Gold Level on my card. I don’t even really understand the perks behind the Green or Gold levels, but there I am anyway scanning the barcode that I pull up on my app on my phone. I’m probably going to earn a free bagel or muffin someday, I don’t really know. I just want a shiny gold card because it’s the only gold I’ll be seeing for a while.
The next thing I’ll be looking to purchase is a reusable k-cup which I can fill with whatever coffee I want and not have to feel guilty about wasting so much plastic every time I throw out a regular k-cup. I last saw them at Walgreens for $10 for a pack of 3. Amazon has them as well for just a few bucks more and they look like this:
When I make my own coffee at home, I prefer to have it black. If I’m dining at a cafe, especially a Cuban cafe, I’ll request Cafe con Leche or a huge latte. At work, because the coffee can be a bit acidic, I’ll add some hazelnut creamer or use the powdered stuff and add Sugar In The Raw. If anyone ever asks how I take my coffee, the answer is generally black, but it depends on who is making it and how I expect it will taste. I can tolerate pretty bad coffee as long as it’s hot, can have some creamer added to save it from being poured down the sink, and doesn’t totally taste like garbage.
I still find it amusing to hear people boast about where the best coffee is made. I don’t think I care anymore. I just care to have it so that I can feel comfortable inside of my own skin when I’m in an unfamiliar setting. Especially at work, a hot cup of coffee helps me feel cozy and okay about being away from home, where I prefer to be.. But most importantly, being able to have coffee while out with friends is just a small detail that is there in the background when jokes or stories are being shared.