This is dedicated to my husband who is a hero in many ways.
I had never really learned how to make coffee. Until about 2 BS (Before Starbucks*), I didn’t even like the stuff and never drank it. But it was about 2 BS when I went away to college and took to drinking a little coffee in the college cafeteria. My appreciation for coffee grew during those college years (enhanced by caffeine-laden stay-awake remedies) until I graduated and was no longer eating in anyone’s cafeteria.
Back at my parents’ house, my mother, who was always on top of the latest food inventions, was convinced that freeze-dried instant coffee was the way to go. I didn’t like that at all so I didn’t drink it. I relied on the local diner.
As a young adult on my own, there were no drive-thru coffee places whatsoever except in the land of Seattle where we heard exclusive brands of coffee could be had in stores built just for that product. This was in the newspapers. Where I lived, one went to the corner deli or lunch counter and ordered a cup of coffee. I drank it, but I still didn’t own a coffee pot.
Fast forward a decade or so and there I am, a mother and a wife and I still don’t know how to make coffee. In fact, there were several years in there when I didn’t indulge in caffeine of any sort because I was nearly always pregnant and/or nursing a baby. And there were many years when the only caffeinated drink I would take was a little green tea.
Eventually the hankerin’ for some coffee returned and it was off to Seven-Eleven for the best coffee around. $.79 for a huge cup!
One time I got my own electric coffee pot. I gave it a good effort—trying to make coffee as good as Seven-Eleven’s. It wasn’t. It tasted like coffee that could have been this:
I tried to make good coffee. Sort of. I tried other people’s electric coffee maker coffee too and didn’t like theirs either. What I really enjoyed was going out or having someone go out to Seven-Eleven and buy it ready made. I did this for about twenty years having sold my electric coffee maker in a yard sale.
I’m not sure when I came across my first retail designer coffee outlet, but it was probably around 20 AS (After Starbucks) when I started shopping for hot coffee somewhere besides at a gas station. Starbucks had oozed out from the land of Seattle and had arrived in my neighborhood!
I got into it. And even though it sounded absolutely CRAZY to think of making coffee and then “watering it down” to make something called an Americano, I got talked into trying it and loved it. More and more of it. With extra shots. I was so hooked and it was costing me a fortune and making me feel like an addict.
Until finally I decided enough was enough. I was determined to find a coffee pot that even I could make good coffee with. I deliberated for a couple of years about this–all the while still ordering at good ol’ Starbucks and pooh poohing my old haunt, Seven-Eleven.
Mind you, I had by that time done a LOT of cooking and knew how to make all kinds of healthy foods, teas, medicinal remedies and drinks—but still not too sure how to make coffee. So I went to my favorite gourmet cooking supply store, Williams & Sonoma. They had so many coffee makers! I didn’t even waste time looking at most of them because I intuitively concluded that the best kind of coffee pot for me was a French Press type. This is the kind where you put the ground coffee in the bottom and pour very hot (but not boiling) water over it and steep it after which you press down on a plunger that sends all the grounds to the bottom and all the coffee is above the plunger and ready to pour.
There were beautiful French Press Coffee Makers on display all filled with whole coffee beans. Hmmm I thought. A young man helped me and showed me the different styles and I chose an excellent mid-priced model and asked him how to make coffee with it.
“Simple,” he said, “You put the whole beans in the bottom and pour the water on top and you have to let it sit for a while and stir it a lot so it will make the coffee, then you press down the plunger and it’s ready to drink.”
“Whole beans?” I asked.
I purchased the pot and took it home. The directions didn’t really say anything about the coffee beans. “Nah!” I thought, “That can’t be right. That doesn’t make sense.” I was pretty sure you didn’t use whole beans but after all, this is Williams & Sonoma and they ought to know. I called my youngest son and he set me straight.
So, the upshot of this saga is that the French Press Coffee Maker turned out to be a wonderful way to make delicious, fresh, non-bitter, heavenly-smelling coffee in minutes. I save so much money and time! And I can have coffee whenever I want, though I am no longer a coffee addict and don’t overindulge in caffeine anymore.
But about once a week or so, I get a visit from an All-American Super Hero who brings me a ready-made serving of my favorite Americano after he has driven not to Starbucks but to a local coffee specialty store that has the best. And I always say,
“Coffee Man, (sigh) My Hero!”
(*The first Starbucks opened in 1971)