H/T to Mogadishu Matt for the inspiration for this post: coffee is one of the simple pleasures in life. File that observation under “obvious and non-controversial,” but coffee brings so much joy for just pennies per mug.
I came late to coffee. I didn’t begin drinking this spirit-lifting brew until I was twenty-six, when I returned to classroom teaching. I was in the midst of my 2011 Weight Loss Odyssey, when I lost around 110 pounds in about eleven months. I realized I needed a low-calorie pick-me-up, and determined to overcome my distaste for coffee’s trademark bitterness.
I dove directly into the deep end of that steamy pool, vowing to drink coffee black, since it’s only about five calories per cup when unadorned with sugar and cream. I can’t remember how I ultimately overcame that initial distaste, much less the heat, but I soon came to appreciate black coffee in the same way I appreciate a steak without steak sauce: on its own merits. I don’t want to sully a steak with sauce; I want the meat to speak for itself.
Similarly, I wanted to experience coffee as the grower and roaster intended. That’s not to say I’m a coffee snob—far from it. I will drink gas station coffee if that’s what’s available. I’ve definitely consumed some swill over the years.
But there is such a joy to waking up to a hot cup of coffee in the morning. It’s especially welcome on a cold morning in midwinter, when the dawn barely peaks above the horizon.
There is a ritual to preparing coffee, too. I have a trusty little red coffee pot, which brews around four cups of coffee, or roughly two mugs. Before going to bed, I prepare the filter and coffee—about two heaping scoops—and position the maker in its little nook in the kitchen. When my alarm goes off, I wake up, stumble to the kitchen, and hit the button to start the brew. Then I crawl back into bed another twenty minutes, arising—often reluctantly, but eager for coffee—to a hot mug of the good stuff.
Coffee pairs well with much. Obviously, it’s great with tea biscuits and cookies, and with oatmeal and cereal. But I also enjoy it with unusual pairings: pizza and coffee, for instance, is surprisingly good, so long as there aren’t any red pepper flakes. Spiciness and coffee do not pair well, in my experience, unless the spice is of a more sugary variety, like cinnamon. An Italian sausage slice with a cup of black coffee is not quite as enjoyable as, say, a slice of mushroom, with its milder flavor. Naturally, I much prefer an ice-cold Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi with a slice, but coffee will do in a pinch.
I’m a dipper, too. I’ve dipped many foods—some, perhaps, questionably—into my coffee. There is a timing component here, though, as the heat and moisture quickly dissolve cookies and the like in hot coffee. It’s not particularly pleasurable to find soggy crumbs at the bottom of a mug, as they call to mind coffee grinds.
In my later years I’ve hedged on my “only-black-coffee” rule, occasionally enjoying coffee with milk, half-and-half, or—most heavenly and decadently of all—heavy cream. But my main preference is still for a good, strong, black brew—the darker the better.
How do you take your coffee? What brews and roasts do you enjoy? Leave a comment below.
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