The American Way (again) –

coffee failWhen I first started coming over to the US, as an itinerant folksinger, I was weaned off tea and onto coffee as the standard/regular ‘cuppa’, but was happy to leave the brewing of this brew to friends and hosts. Later, and especially after moving over permanently, I found myself being required to make it myself from time to time.

The complexities of a filter machine evaded my sense of logic so completely – and often – that I joke that ‘I had found more ways to fail to make coffee’ than anyone in recorded history.

Too much coffee; not enough coffee; too much water; not enough water; water not going through the coffee; machine not switched on; etc., etc. Once I left the spout off the machine and didn’t notice, which resulted in a fairly spectacular “caffeine hosedown,” as Wendy dubbed it.

As the years went by and we settled into running a bookstore, we developed a routine: Wendy got up in the morning and fed the cats – and there can be quite a lot of them sometimes, given all our fosters – while I set up the coffee the night before, so that all she had to do to achieve caffeination amidst all those felines was push the button.

A couple of days ago, having congratulated myself on long ago mastering the art of making coffee successfully, I really scored a ‘bulls-eye’ for the other team.

I got up before Wendy, hit the switch, and went out for a smoke while the coffee percolated. I came back in to find coffee was flooding the counter top and down over the kitchen floor. When I organized things the night before, I’d done everything except put the jug back in its allotted place under the filter. Ours is not a pot that stops when the carafe is out.

Of course I find that most folk around here have no idea how to make a pot of tea, so I suppose we can call it (in soccer parlance) ‘a score draw’. Now look at that, I scored a World Cup reference, and I haven’t watched a single game.


15 thoughts on “The American Way (again) –

  1. Even if you had a coffee maker that stopped the flow you will still have a mess, as the filter holder will eventually overflow. Someone once used our coffee maker and did not have the lid on the pot, and the lid is what hits the thing that stops the flow, so it stopped the flow, but coffee still eventually spills out. What I sometimes do is grind the coffee and add the water but forgot to dump the ground coffee into the filter. There is always something. Did you mean to have the picture of the coffee look like a sad face?

  2. goes to show – we have a love-hate relationship with our conveniences/techie stuff: sometimes we hate ’em (when they don’t work or in other ways betray us), but we can’t bear the thought of living without ’em.

  3. You don’t have to be Scottish (or British for that matter) to fail at making coffee. Since I don’t drink it (don’t like the taste or the smell) I can’t tell when something is done right, too strong, not strong enough, etc. And I am completely American.

  4. Have you ever considered just converting Wendy to tea? Tastes so much better, and comes in so many wonderful varieties, whereas coffee is coffee is coffee, all tasting alike and all tasting awful. (I share, obviously, Jane Yolen’s point of view on this.)

  5. If you are a coffee-lover, tea is so bland as to make you wonder if you really put anything into the water in the pot/cup!

    I need to go back and read the beginnings of this thread – not sure why the effort is being made to get Wendy to switch??

  6. If you prefer to drink tea with milk, it is necessary to hie oneself unto an Indian grocery store to purchase Brooke Bond Red Label tea, preferably un-bagged. You can paint your house with this stuff: it is not bland (nor is it expensive, which these Scots do appreciate). I used to ship this to a cousin when she lived in rural TN, because I love her and want her to be happy. Her parents, both born in Scotland in the late 1800s, did drink coffee at breakfast, and her father was noted for asking his wife as she poured, “Well, Lady, what is it today: a knife and fork or a straw?”

  7. All excellent comments –
    * I actually switch back and forward between tea and coffee (I can’t understand the American taste for ‘cauld tea’ though).
    *I bring tetley’s tea bags back with me from Scotland.
    *I don’t drink any tea except traditional black tea.
    *I’ve grown to really like coffee – specially first thing in the morning.
    *Jane Yolen had instant coffee in her Scottish kitchen ;0)

    • There was a time when I scorned instant coffee – as I also did with decaf, whether instant or brewed. Now, I don’t mind drinking it occasionally – and drink decaf most of the time except my morning coffee ritual. Is my age showing, I wonder?

  8. Er that instant coffee is for Bob Harris who insists on it. But I have bags of real coffee in the drawer next to the fridge. But Tetley, Jack? Really? That’s what David used to call Angel Piss, so weak it nearly sails off into the blue without passing through your bladder. How could a Scottish tea drinker want that stuff? Besides, you can get (barely) a single cuppa from it, and not a full pot. –Jane

    • : D My grandmother and great aunt once spent a day travelling and “visiting.” At house after house, their friends served them tepid, insipid tea, which my grandmother and great aunt politely sipped while their friends drank coffee. When they at last arrived at the home of a Scottish friend/relative, their hostess inquired whether they’d like some tea. “Yes,” my great aunt replied, “and make it strong! I’ve already had my stomach washed out three times today!”

  9. All this debate has made me crave a cup of tea. And I have the coffee pot ready to go for the morning, love the timer!

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