Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A Cup, A Cup, A Cup, A Cup

Last year, I was in Vancouver and had coffee around four in the afternoon with my friend Kathryn. It was a big, decorated mocha expresso double latte foamy with a chaser concoction that was artfully decorated in foam swirl art and the damn thing kept me up counting ceiling tiles in the drywall above the hotel bed.

I do coffee. From time to time, it does me. I like it polluted. Dirty as hell with cream and about a quarter pound of sugar in it. I like it strong too. You should be able to strip paint or polish chrome fenders with coffee and I can with mine. I've been approached by several alternative fuel companies for my coffee recipe as they want to start running the space shuttle on the stuff. Thumper likes her coffee a little weaker than mine and as a result cuts an average cup with tap water. I ask her to do this out of my line of sight for, as much as I've renounced organized religion, this sort of thing is an affront to a higher power somewhere.

Not that I'm against organized religion, its just that I like the suspense of not knowing who's going to say mass on a weekly basis. Hey, he's been headlining here since the seventies. Isn't it time to bring some other players out of repertory?

My coffee is a conscious rebellion against the stuff they pass off as coffee in the office. I am convinced that this is actually hot water that's been shown a picture of a bean. It's like airport highballs. You could put out a fire with a straight up whisky at LaGuardia.

I used to, immediately after college (that's the Cretacious era for those of you who are paying attention), own a fairly simple and honest coffeemaker. It was actually an upgrade from a dorm coffeemaker that I had bought and brewed about four small cups at a time. That machine was fine in that it was small, compact and just the thing for a New York City dorm suite. When I made coffee, I had to put my roommate's Selectric out in the hall. Things were that tight. The thing, as I said, made about four cups at a time. Immediately after school, when I was first working in the big city, four cups didn't get me into the shower. So Master Coffee was replaced by Mister Coffee and things were fine. It was an honest brewer. You put java in the filter, Jersey water (filtering out the medical waste, these were the eighties) in the reservoir, flip some switches and ba-doom; Joe a few minutes later.

This worked for a few years until I got married, moved in with her (yes, I tried to preserve my options) and my mother decided that a young couple couldn't cope with a coffeemaker that JUST made coffee! No no no! We had to step up in the world so when Christmas came around, we got a new, fancy, European pot that had more disclaimers than an Enron IPO. This thing timed, brewed, remembered (You haf had zwei too many tassen! Ztop drinkink now!) and woke us up with the smell of fresh coffee and fried circuits. Yes, less than one year into our tortured lives, Kaffeefuhrer blew out it's main heating element that made fresh hot coffee into tepid mud as it sat in a cold, New England kitchen. Wonderful. We took Schickeljava to the local repair joint, were referred to a special repair shop that was described as "just a little out of the way" but in truth an Argentinian plane crash in the Andes was closer and Coffee Fritz got repaired for about the cost of a new Mr. Coffee.

But repaired it was and Java Schultz served us for another few years until he got brew Alzheimer's and forgot when to make the stuff. One thirty in the morning on a Saturday? How about some coffee? Seven P.M? Never a better time! Off to the small kitchen appliance graveyard he went and we were off on the hunt for another maker. Found a Krups, which of course is a European consortium that used to make armarments but is lighter and friendlier now and has found a product line that doesn't make B-17 pilots toggle release switches in ceremonial flyovers.

Krupsy, for a few years, did what it was supposed to do, was easy on the eye and we had gotten him at a relative bargain price. Sort of like the EU. Then one day we left a geneaology book open and he traced his lineage back to a Fliegerabwehrkannone and we were toast, right along with the Mitsubishi toaster. Krupsy started a misinformation campaign that made Enigma look like a hidden word contest in the Sunday supplement. He shorted out his LCD display and gave us characters that looked more like heiroglyphics that the programmed time for coffee to start brewing. You either want a hot cup at six tomorrow, or this way to the secret temple of Isis. I was never clear on that.

Today, I'm back to a good old American Mr. Coffee. Simple, honest and able to boil up my brand of diesel strength Joe without any more attitude than Johnny Damon at Fenway. It has the designer asthetic of 5/8" copper plumbing pipe, it doesn't brew it up at a select hour for more than one day at a time and it keeps coffee in a POT and not a swishy carafe, or something else that might need an accent because it can't say in six letters what we can say in three. So there, and good for you America. You can brew up my Joe any Wednesday after lunch.

Happy Birthday.

Bunny on.

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