I drank eight cups of coffee a day in college. I reasoned that any Economics major trying to survive calculus and statistics and have a life outside the books would do the same. But post-college, when anxiety reared its ugly head for the first time, the caffeine-fueled life held less appeal. I had to calm down and sleep more. I broke up with caffeinated coffee cold turkey; today it would have been via text. But I never ended my love affair with the flavor.
I adore coffee syrup from Providence. I eat coffee yogurt for breakfast nearly every morning. I like my dark beer with a hint of espresso. And I have never, ever deserted decaf Joe. I am still a denizen of all the local Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. The first thing I do in a new town is find at least three coffee shops to haunt for my unleaded fix.
But I’ve had a strained relationship with home-brewed coffee. It just always tastes better to me when someone else makes it. I have invested in a lot of paraphernalia to brew the perfect cup: bean grinders, Melita drip carafes and filters, French presses, and drip machines. I have tried Starbucks Via – the king of instants – but it still smacks of Sanka.
I have watched friends and family jump on the Keurig and Nespresso trains, happily sipping at home, but I planted my feet firmly on the platform. I would not buy more expensive equipment and be a slave to the K-cup manufacturers. It was wasteful. It was lazy. It wasn’t “real coffee.” It was too expensive. I’d drink tea.
But the other day at knitting group, our leader told me how she’d treated herself to the smallest Keurig machine to keep near her bedroom. She said that the morning cup upstairs felt like a small, delicious luxury that set the tone of her whole day. And with that one story, I K-aved.
Why, I wondered to myself, do I not feel worthy of a decent cup of decaf at home? So I walked, armed with a handful of 20 percent off coupons, to the Bed Bath & Beyond across from my apartment, where my knitting friend told me the machine she bought was on sale. I love a bargain. I lugged it and a case full of “Coffee House Decaf” home. The walk seemed like less of a good idea thus laden in 90-degree heat. I hoped it would prove worthwhile.
It was with mixed feelings that I filled the reservoir with filtered water, inserted the K-cup, and pushed “brew.”
What happened next was magical. In one completely hassle-free minute, I had a very hot, very delicious cup of decaf to which I added some Trader Joe’s Coconut Milk Creamer, and settled in on my couch to gloat and savor.
The revelation I had while sipping was not so much about coffee, but about how I resist treating myself to simple and non-extravagant pleasures that I would encourage friends (or strangers for that matter) to indulge in without a moment of hesitation. If one of my children even mentioned some such wish in passing I’d have Amazon drone-drop it at their doorstep that day. So the post-coffee note to self would read something like this: “Treat yourself at least as kindly as you would your family and friends.”
I even ordered some high-octane stuff for when I have them over for coffee, brewed one delicious cup at a time.