Published Sunday, November 11, 2012

Grinding it out

Coffee is hard.

It wasn’t always. Cowboys hung out by the fire, boiled water in a pot and threw grinds in. Let it settle for a few minutes, a pinch or two of salt and a dash of cool water to knock the grinds down. The cattle settled. The fire did its job. Enjoy.

Technology took over. Percolators showed up. Fill the bottom with water, coffee grinds on top. Turn up the stove and wait. Soon the water starts popping up in that little glass bubble at the top. When it got really dark, you knew it was time. Enjoy.

Recently, I took one of those percolators to a campout with our Boy Scout Troop. The boys were clueless. I made coffee over a fire with that little kettle. They wondered where the timer/button was; where you plug it in.

I remember we also had them cook bacon - cook as in place raw bacon in a metal pot over a camp stove. I remember one of the boys looking at me with a mixture of excitement and disbelief, an expression that can only be seen, not described. “I’ve never cooked bacon this way.”

And how, pray tell, do you cook bacon?

“I push a button.” And this is why we take boys out in the woods to learn what to do when the power goes out. But that’s for another column.

And then we got into automatics. Mr. Coffee started it all, yes lawyers I know it’s trademarked. Noted. We went downhill from there. Now you can set timers and wake up to the aroma of coffee.

Coffee is no longer coffee. It’s French Vanilla, Hazelnut, Fog Blast, Newman’s Own, Kona Blend, French Roast, Columbia Roast, Decaf, Low Caf, No Caf and Banana Crunch. We don’t have small and big. We have verde and grande.

Coffee should be simple, It’s black. It’s light, medium or strong. You get a small cup or a big one.

Coffee should take time. By that, you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You get to, and yes I’m using one of the favorite words of the Little Black Dress, savor.

Yet in our desire to get immediate gratification, we go instant or program it. We hit the drive thru and order a cup of coffee that takes an absurd number of words to describe and includes the desired temperature as well. And you can read newspaper stories every day about some fight that breaks out over a five-degree difference.

We spend more money on getting our coffee temperature right than feeding orphans. But let’s remember, “Life is Good.”

For us, the auto thing never worked. The Dress and I got tired of filling the recycled paper to save the Amazon forest. We forgot to set the timer. Too much prepping. Too little savoring. And we never agreed on the flavor.

I finally, totally, after much prodding from the LBD, went to the Dark Side.

We bought a Keurig. Rather, I bought it for The Dress during her birthday month. I rationalized it because I like coffee. The Dress likes liquid that starts as coffee before she adds whatever and then more. We could never agree.

And yes I fought against it. All I was told was that there were these little pods you stuck in the machine and voila, you got a single serving of whatever. The obvious questions were 1. why would anyone want one cup of coffee and 2. can I actually have coffee out of it or only something described by a designer.

So The Dress asks how I like it. I do. And let’s admit, it’s sometimes hard to admit our spouse is right.

But let’s move on. It takes seconds to have a full cup. I can choose my flavor. Again, to me flavor has to do with strength, not the name of some rainforest or country after it. The Dress can get a cup right after me and have all the rainforest, European river and Mongolian Yak flavors she wants.

And maybe in this case all this advanced technology actually helped. We each get what we want.

I’m finishing this column the morning after the presidential election. Just over half the country is ecstatic; the rest think the Second Seal has just broken.

Somehow The Dress and I can use the same pot, but have different flavors. And yet we still talk to each other in the morning. We don’t always agree, but we work together, compromise for what we believe is best for our family and the SONs of Thunder.

So maybe it doesn’t matter if you like (R)egular coffee or (D)ecaffinated. It, we, all make up the same pot. Maybe we can all take a lesson from a Keurig.


John A. Winters is a staff writer for The Newnan Times-Herald. His personal blog is at . You can reach him at .

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