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Thoughts on Coffee

  • I recently heard someone talking about wanting the government to regulate or outlaw caffeine, because drugs.
    • We all know how well alcohol prohibition worked, and that was for something that most people used to relax and have a good time in their off hours.  Can you imagine what it would look like if Uncle Sugar decided to outlaw something a lot of people use to get going and accomplish something?
    • You can make alcohol from pretty much anything that has carbohydrates.  For reference, look up moonshining, home beer and wine making, and bathtub gin.
    • You have to import coffee into most of the United States.  The Mexican drug cartels will pale in comparison to the hardbitten heroes who will smuggle in the finest beans for this nation.

 

First they came for the drinkers and I said nothing because I didn’t drink.  Well, not much, anyway.

Then they came for the gamblers, and I said nothing because I hate casinos.

Then they came for the smokers, and I said nothing because I don’t like the smell of cigarettes.

Then they came for my coffee, and here I sit atop a pyramid of severed heads.

 

I arrived at our campsite this weekend to find that I had not only forgotten my coffee cup, but also had no styrofoam cups from which to drink the black blood of my enemies.  Luckily for me, I had my old canteen cup in the truck (don’t ask).  I was then able to boil the water, mix the coffee, and sip it in a most outdoorsy fashion.  Only got a few weird looks from the neighbors.

 

It is good that I have a coffee pot that I can prepare in the evening so that it can start brewing at 5:30 AM, for there are few things I can do with accuracy while looking at the world through one blood-shot eye.

 

Look, don’t touch my guns, my woman, my money, or my coffee, and we’ll be fine, OK?

 

 

For the Love of Peets

To Howard Schulz of Starbucks,

It appears that Starbuck’s, purveyors of coffee and desserts served in cups, has had enough of us and the anti-rights crowd using your stores as a place to get in each other’s business.  Your official policy has been, and as far as I can tell still is, one of neutrality.  If I wanted to carry my gun into your store and not bother anyone else, then you’ve been happy to take my money and give me caffeine.  What’s changed from what I called ‘silent neutrality’ is that now you’d rather that we not bring our guns with us when we patronize your establishment.

To that I say:  OK, but if you’d rather I not come into your store doing something that makes you uncomfortable, then don’t plan on me coming into your store, period.  Would y’all object if an inter-racial couple came into the store, arm in arm?  What about a same-sex couple canoodling on the couch while playing one of your conveniently placed board games?  I honestly don’t care one way or the other about those two situations, but there are people who would be bothered by seeing couples whose composition is not what they approve of.  Some of them might even get vocal and complain to your staff about it.  In turn, some of the other side of the argument might turn their behavior up to 11 just to get under the skin of the people who object.  I tend to call all of those people “jerks” and ignore them, but apparently you find it impossible to do that when it comes to those who want people like me driven from the public eye or those who want to make a public demonstration of their carrying of firearms.

Yeah, I know that some of us were more in-your-face about guns than others, and the same goes for the anti crowd.   And yes, I know that you’re just trying to sell caffeine and sugar and don’t want your private property to become the local shouting ground.  I get it.  Your place, your rules.

But the figleaf of “You can come in with a hogleg on your belt and no-one will challenge you because we’re afraid of asking our employees challenging someone who’s armed” is, to me, the same as saying “We’re not going to tell gay people they can’t come in here, but we’ll politely ask that they act straight when they’re on the premises.”  It’s cowardice to take a stand without really taking a stand, and the silent neutrality I respected before has now become soft hostility.

So, in the future, I won’t be taking myself or my children to Starbucks for a treat.  Honestly, that’s all it’s become over the past few years anyway.  My coffee monkey is currently satisfied with a morning cuppa made on the kitchen counter, and I can buy good coffee beans anywhere.

Hopefully this all blows over and we can all find an equilibrium where coffee shops are a commons to sit and have a quiet moment without people on one side or the other getting too rowdy.  But until you drop your pretense of wanting to take our money but also telling us to stop doing something that makes you feel icky inside, that’s not going to happen.

Sincerely,

Daddy J. Bear

Louisville

The Four Rules of Coffee

  1. All coffee is always scalding hot.
    • Burn cream tastes funny
  2. Never let your coffee touch any surface you don’t want stained.
    • There’s a reason I wear so much brown and tan clothing.
  3. Keep your hands off of the coffee cup until you are ready to pick it up.
    • Gravity is not your friend.
  4. Always be sure that the coffee you are pouring is the coffee you want to drink. 
    • You never know when it’s hazelnut or a ‘light’ roast.

Bonus rule:

5.  Never try to catch a falling coffee cup.

  • There’s a reason I know this one.

Coffee Blogging

Fox News is reporting on some of the ways that people around the world feed their coffee monkey.  Basically, they take a look at a representative coffee drink from different countries, with recommendations for where to get the best drink.

I’ve started having coffee a couple of times a week again. I’m nowhere my two pot a day habit that I shed this summer, but a treat every so often can’t hurt.  And I can stop again anytime I want.  Really I can.

When I was still earning my keep by going to fun and dirty places around the world, one of the things I loved was to try the local beers (if allowed by the damned Puritans who write general orders) and to try the local coffee.  Here’s my take:

  • Italy – The article of course names espresso as the best coffee drink in Italy, which I agree with.  Espresso is also the base for a plethora of coffee drinks, both tasty and wretched.  
  • Austria – They talk about Melange, which my friends who had it raved about.  I preferred black coffee with my sachertorte.  
  • Turkey – Kahvesi or Turkish Coffee – The article is wrong.  Real men eat the grounds, then see paradise while their hands shake so bad they can’t type or write.
  • Greece – I love Greek cuisine, but the “Frappe” they talk about in this article is, to me, crap.  It’s made with instant coffee (hawk spit), and is usually as sweet or sweeter as the frufru coffee drinks Americans have become addicted to.
  • Cuba – Never had coffee in Cuba itself, but I’ve had Cafe Cubano in Miami, and it’s one of my favorites.  I love the taste of raw sugar in coffee.  I scandalized an old Cuban waitress by adding a bit of cream to mine.
  • Finland – Never had cheese dunked in my coffee, but Juhla Mokka is one of the best grocery store coffees I’ve ever had.  It’s especially good when you’ve been up 28 hours and it’s 20 degrees below with a wind chill and snow.
  • Ireland – Of course the article talks about Irish Coffee, because tourists like their coffee like they like their women:  full of booze.  I think Irish Coffee is tasty, but the brewed coffee I had in Ireland was thick, dark, and wonderful.
  • United States – Are you bloody kidding me?  Frappuccino?  Yeah, lots of Americans get their daily intake of fat and sugar along with a hint of coffee, but come on.  Then again, one thing about the melting pot and all of the different people we have here is that there are so many different ways to get coffee.  Personally, if I had to name a quintessential coffee for the U.S., I’d say Cafe du Monde in New Orleans.  Nothing better than a quiet morning drinking coffee as dark as an ex-wife’s heart while you watch the world go by.

Get Thee Behind Me

I’m still clean and sober coffee wise.  Not a drop since July 4.  It’s easy to not drink hot coffee when it’s Africa hot out and the humidity is so thick you need a snorkel.

But now it is fall, and the fall brings thoughts of hot coffee on crisp mornings.

Starbucks recently brought back their Pumpkin Spice Latte, aka Liquid Crack in a Cup.  They’re expensive, they’re full of fat and sugar, and I crave them like a monkey smacking the feeder bar at a cocaine study.

And now another study extolling the anti-oxidant boost of adding my favorite spices to coffee comes out.  So it’s good for you if you can get past the whole “caffeinated to the eyeballs” thing.  And the recipe that UPI included in their report is just not fair.

I may have to fall off the wagon for a few months.  I can quit any time I want to anyway.

Thoughts on Coffee Makers

Over at Cool Tools, Steven Leckart does a quick rundown on a lever-action espresso maker.  You boil water, load the filter, then use two levers to force hot water through the grounds to make your morning espresso.  The simplicity, ease of use and care, and the ability to make a decent cup of espresso after the power goes out really appeals to me.  If I’m going to survive the zombie apocalypse, I’m going to need caffeine.

JP over at Eyes Never Closed recently went halfsies on a Keurig coffee maker, and seems to like it.  As a gadget geek, I’ve always liked these contraptions.  I first ran into something like this a few years ago when I was visiting a vendor in Germany, and their office coffee pot automagically ground the beans, heated the water, brewed the coffee, and spat it out into a cup.  The coffee was good, the ability to choose what coffee drink you wanted was neat, and hey, I got to push buttons on a machine.

I’ve had coffee in just about every form that I can think of:  boiled cowboy coffee made over a fire, espresso and cappuccino made by well-dressed Hungarian waiters, Turkish made by an old man on the side of a goat trail outside of Sinop, boiled black mud bought for a couple thousand rubles at a Russian “truck stop”, percolated coffee made in silver bullet urns in Lord knows how many Army command posts and offices, Taster’s Choice out of an MRE (nasty, but you gotta do what you gotta do, and it’s drinkable after mixing in cocoa mix, sugar and creamer, and occasionally – peanut butter), and of course my old stand-by:  the Mr. Coffee on the kitchen counter.

I’ve tried my hand at a few presses, and didn’t like the experience of picking grounds out of my teeth, but I’m probably doing it wrong.  I’ve never had a chance to try using any of the vacuum brewers, but I have had a few cups out of one, and it was pretty good. 

So, how do you all make your morning wake-me-up?  What’s your favorite way to prepare the blessed juice of the bean?

Business Idea

While contemplating the dietary levels of caffeine necessary to work the graveyard shift when you normally work during the day, an idea occurred to me.  All coffee houses seem to have cute names for their different brews:  Columbian Dark Roast, Yemeni Breakfast, Detroit Gutter Brew, whatever.  Since my coffee doesn’t normally allow much light to pass through it, it’s been likened to motor or crude oil.  Why not capitalize on that and come out with my own DaddyBear branded coffee?

I could have a chain of coffee houses that look like oil change stations, manned by hairy ex-Marines with an attitude problem.  The offerings would include Vegemite sandwiches, bran muffins, and whatever recipe of the day I feel like baking.  Of course, I’d have to hire Juan Valdez and his trusty goat to go around the world and find the choicest coffee beans.  For a roastmaster, I’ll hire someone who looks like an extra from Mad Max.

Our coffee offerings would be:

  • West Texas Intermediate – A Light, Sweet Roast.  While the center of a glass pot of this brew is still dark enough that normal light will not flow through it, the very edges of  the pot will show a nice, warm dark brown glow.  A spoon placed in this coffee will fall to the side of the mug.  Good for drinking in the middle of the day where you need a touch of caffeine to keep an even keel, but don’t want to be wired.  Can be served in any normal, ceramic coffee cup or mug.   The aroma will be rich, with notes of cactus and bluebonnets.
  • Brent – Medium Roast – When held up to a light, this blend will allow no light to pass through it.  This would be good for mornings, when you need that little kick in the butt to get motivated for the day.  A spoon placed in the center of a cup of this coffee will stand on its own.  Should be served in a U.S. Navy issue porcelain mug, as Mid-Rats coffee is close in taste, thickness, and corrosiveness to this concoction.  The bouquet will include notes of lingenberries and scotch whiskey.
  • DaddyBear’s Special Roast – A roast as dark as overused motor oil – When held up to a light, a pot of this coffee will absorb not only the light behind it, but also from all sources of illumination near it.  This drink is meant to be consumed by IT specialists, medical students on an ER rotation, and the crews of space freighters who can’t sleep because the grue might get them.  A spoon placed in a cup of this coffee will burst into flames, then dissolve.  Should be brewed and served in vessels made of borosilicate glass.  This coffee smells like a 1953 Cadillac diesel engine.

So what do y’all think?  I can start research as soon as I get some investors!

On Coffee

It is by coffee alone that I set my mind in motion.
It is by the juice of the bean that thoughts acquire speed,
The teeth acquire stains,
The stains become a warning.
It is by coffee alone that I set my mind in motion…

Anyone who knows me knows that one of my bad habits is coffee, in all of its forms. I know that the Cafe du Monde is the best place for a cup of coffee after a long night on Bourbon Street. I know what Jula Mocha is, and how best to prepare it. I know that dopio espresso means it’s double strong, not double big. I’ve had cappuccinos brewed by a German waiter in starched white linen, and Turkish coffee boiled by a shepherd on the side of a mountain. I’ve had coffee boiled, pressed, dripped, and pressure steamed. I like my coffee like I like my women, strong and sweet.

I started drinking coffee at a VERY early age. My Scandinavian aunts gave it to me by the teaspoon full when I was about 6 months old. They started with milk with just a bit of coffee, and gradually worked their way up to straight black Norwegian wake-me-up. The thinking on that side of the family is that if you can take that, you’re ready for solid food.

My grandmother used to drink boiled coffee by the gallon every day. This woman was up every morning at 4 to start cooking and baking, and would finish out the day playing cards or watching the late movie, always with a cup of strong, sweet coffee nearby. I think I got my liking for bean juice from her.

My parents were prodigious consumers of coffee, but they drank weak swill. I learned from them that if you can see through it, it’s not worth drinking.

I began drinking coffee as an adult after I got out of Basic. I used it at that point purely for the caffeine. The more the merrier. I was taught how to suck on dry coffee grounds in the same manner as you would dip Copenhagen snoose. I also learned how to put Folgers Crystals from an MRE under your eyelid to get the quick jolt of pain and caffeine straight to the bloodstream when you’re dead tired and have to stay awake just a bit longer. No, that’s not oral cancer or jaundice, that’s a serious case of not wanting to conk out.

When I got to Europe in ’91, I started to learn about good coffee. My company commander always had a good strong pot of Kronung in his office, and the chow hall always had good coffee. I was introduced to espresso and cappuccino’s by a friend who was stationed in Naples, and I’ve never looked back.

After I got back to the States, I developed a taste for Arbuckle’s cowboy coffee in Arizona, and Community Coffee in Louisiana. I discovered Starbucks, which is to coffee what McDonalds is to lunch. No, it’s not the best you can get, and a lot of smaller local establishments do it better, but it’s the same cup of coffee in Louisville as it is in New York. Louisville has the Java Brewing Company, which has the best product locally. Nothing beats getting beans first thing in the morning when they’re still warm from the roaster.

When I was going to college, I grew a pretty bad caffeine monkey on my back. I was drinking a pot of coffee every morning before work, drinking another while I was at work, hitting Starbucks on the way to school, and hitting it again on the way home.

Lately, I’ve cut way back on my consumption. I normally make coffee at home maybe two times a week, and have cut back to one cup of coffee a day at work. I treat myself at either Starbucks or the JBC once every week or so.

Coffee to me is one of life’s pleasures. I drink coffee more for the enjoyment of it, rather than for the caffeine hit. Nothing feels better on a cold morning than a warm earthenware mug in my hands. Nothing wakes me up faster than the smell of a fresh pot of coffee.

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