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I Can’t Believe the Coffee is So Difficult….

September 7, 2012

Before you get married, everyone says you each need your own toothpaste because if you squeeze the tube from the middle and she squeezes the tube from the bottom you will end up having an argument. For an extra $3, this is an easy problem to solve. How the coffee is made, well that’s another story.

Someone once told me that marriage is not a 50%/50% proposition. It is actually a 100%/100% effort, and if each of you isn’t giving 100% to the other then it gets really hard. Well, it’s all hard at times and all great at times, but what you aren’t prepared for is all of the small things that annoy each of you. I think that is where the toothpaste advice came from. The good news is we both squeeze from the middle, however, the problem in our house emanates from flavors and technique. I prefer a strong and minty flavor while my wife likes the sweet, citrus variety. The real problem comes with technique in that I apply my toothpaste directly to the brush, neatly close the top and brush. My wife prefers to stick the end of her toothpaste dispenser in her mouth, squeeze in some toothpaste and then brush. She then tosses the toothpaste tube back into HER drawer with the top still open. I know the girls have adopted her technique as their bathroom drawers are full of crusted-over toothpaste containers that usually don’t have a top.

This problem is easily addressed at very little cost. However, the daily pot of coffee has become complicated over the years, and I am the high-maintenance one. When we first met I didn’t even drink coffee. The absence of coffee in my life was central to my simple and minimalistic lifestyle that included plenty of sleep. I slept in a sleeping bag for years because it was easiest, and I had only about 10 items in my refrigerator mainly because I didn’t use condiments. I preferred the natural taste of fresh bread and fine meats on my sandwiches, and I didn’t want a meal disturbed by the lathering of sauces and jellies all over everything. So, you can imagine my horror the first time I grilled a steak for her and she asked for steak sauce. This set the tone for our relationship, and now we have a cornucopia of condiments and seasonings for all types of fare. The other aspect of becoming more like my spouse was the introduction of coffee into my life.

I think coffee, like heroine, does not have a natural appeal. It’s an acquired taste, so my gateway drug was cappuccino. I worked in a restaurant that served cappuccinos, and the early 1990s was the beginning of the coffee shop craze where we would often go on dates. Now the problem is that I’m 20 years into my addiction, I have moved on to the hard stuff, and I have a lot of opinions on how I want my coffee. Since my wife uses huge amounts of cream and sugar in her coffee, she will drink about anything poured through a filter – like meat slathered in sauce, she can’t really taste the coffee anyway (you should hear her Starbucks order). Even the truck-stop coffee that has been on the burner for 9 hours doesn’t phase her. I have a more developed palate, and I like my coffee really strong, fresh and very hot with a touch of milk and a moderate amount of sweetner – she would say it’s black. Finally, my wife likes to walk down to the kitchen with a pot of coffee waiting for her while I prefer for my coffee to be freshly brewed. You can see the problem here.

So, like in most marriages, we have an extraordinarily complicated solution. The coffee is made the night before, but since I get up first – I start the coffee. And since we use a stronger roast (for me), I pour my coffee about half-way through the brewing process so that my cup is stronger and hers is weaker. It’s every man for himself when it comes to dialing-in the color and taste. Somehow this seems easier than buying a second coffee pot, but the new problem I can see coming is that my older daughter has been introduced to the black nectar, and I’m confident that she, like me, will soon be full of opinions.

© Johnny Hea – 2012 All Rights Reserved

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