A Cuppa Joe – May 5, 2021

There is a reason I don’t like decaf coffee.

And it’s not psychological – that deal where I assume the curmudgeon-stance while bellyaching about how manufacturers, purveyors of victuals especially, can leave components out of something and charge more for it.  Decaf just doesn’t taste like, well, coffee.  Tastes like medicine, unpleasant medicine.  Full octane instant coffee is bad enough.  Decaf is worse.

I hear the cranks out there: “It’s an acquired taste.”  Reminding the taste for beer, Irish, Scotch, Bourbon, or a proper Martini is an acquired taste. Don’t know anyone who on first downing a slug of good Irish loved it.

Aficionados of these nectars manage to get over the initial turn-off.  Maybe it’s the alcohol?  Nah!

I get it with decaf coffee.  Extra processing, I expect, to remove the caffeine.1  Still curious how reducing the sodium in a product equates to higher prices. Or eliminating sugar.

The reason I don’t like decaf coffee is because it simply tastes bad.  Frankly, all instant coffee tastes bad. 

Pop, years ago made “coffee” for visitors to his hacienda by boiling water, filling visitors’ cups, then passing around a spoon and the jar of instant.  Always tasted bitter. Somehow off.  Not right. Even loaded with sugar, milk, or artificial add-ins.  We’ll exclude Bourbon, because even then, that wasn’t a morning ritual.

Pop’s visitors usually men, all of us off to some “man” thing, baling hay, hauling iron, pouring concrete – the likes of that.  None of us ever complained, but in retrospect, that coffee was atrocious.  We all loved it though. It was the company, the camaraderie.  Think?

Lately, experiencing mild insomnia.  Drink coffee until late in the afternoon.  Cause?  I dunno.  Thought I’d give decaf a go.  Tried regular brew decaf.  Same disappointment. If I’m going to suffer, might as well go whole hog.  So, I recently bought a jar of instant coffee.  Decaf.  Decaf instant coffee.

Which is stupid. I’ve done it before.  Tasted crappy then. Still does.

Is there no end to my lunacy?

Coffee, real coffee and I have a life-long relationship.  Mostly amicable.  “Long,” if you’ve an idea how old I am2 is really long.  Started as a mid-teen.  Through the service, on long night shifts, put down many teletype-warm3 cups of “mud.” “Mud”?  Yup.  Some of it was Army-Navy-Air Force dining hall nasty.4

Same during my stint with law enforcement. Manage to snag a hot cup of coffee, just pop the lid and wait for it to be drinkable, you’d get a call to go somewhere in a hurry.  No such thing as recap and save for “after.”  Where you gonna keep it?  How long would it be before “after”?

Suspect that history has as much to do with why I get by drinking coffee until late afternoon.  Or does it?  My nascent insomnia may be telegraphing me a wake-up call.  

Hey, I think that’s some kind of pun.

— Notes

1 First adding something – I have it on authority methylene chloride or ethyl acetate – to remove the caffeine. Boy, doesn’t that sound delicious and wholesome?

2 Go ahead amuse yourself, guess. In person, because I’m physically fit (save parts that don’t work really well anymore) and gosh awful handsome, folk generally miss my age short twenty years.  Weren’t for the snow on the roof, I could go back to college. Oh, and I’m modest too.  No end to my charm.

3 Teletype warm.  Waiting in the comm center for a break to send some schmuck off across the flight line for coffee, luck would always have it, he’d return with the precious liquid just as the half-hourly flurry of messages arrived or an alert put us hard at it for two or three hours, no time to slurp coffee or even as nature has it, to get shed of the last cup or two we’d managed.  Coffee cups went atop the teletype machines to wait.  Teletypes generated a lot of heat, but teletype-warm means the coffee would be a lot warmer after consumption and processing, especially in winter.  But we needed that coffee on dread shifts.  Yeah, I’m a fan of iced coffee, but that’s entirely different and there’s a principle involved here.

4 With respect to service chow halls and messes, in the olden days, when servicemen were cooks for their branches of service, food there (aside from field rations) was marvelous.  Especially Navy chow, but Air Force and Army grub was always good too.  I don’t care what you’ve been led to believe.  I traveled a fair bit, so I got to try them all.  Enough so’s I can state we’re not talking about outliers here. Just as I was mustering-out, branches began to use civilian food services.  Lost its mystique, and a good bit of its appeal.  Honest.  Coffee, when fresh, was good. Three hours after brewing – in remote and lonely outposts, having steeped a whole shift – it was gross; iodine I suspect tasted better.  But we drank it.  No Starbucks in many of those places.

Published by spwilcen

Retired career IT software engineer, or as we were called in the old days, programmer, it's time to empty my file cabinet of all the "creative" writing accumulated over the years - toss most of it, salvage and publish what is worthwhile.

23 thoughts on “A Cuppa Joe – May 5, 2021

  1. Well I agree. But I will tell you SP that one thing in my life in the US that I never understood was the awful coffee that you guys drink. Those huge cups! All that brown water with either cream, sugar or both! I tried it and never drank it again! I have to drink real coffee, which is what you guys call expresso and we just call ‘solo’ because we also drink it (my favourite way) ‘cortado’ with a little part of boiled milk, or a large cup of ‘cafe con leche’, which is mixed with boiled milk, and all with its normal amount of caffeine! I always drank what in Miami they called ‘Cuban Coffee’ which is the same as ours or Italians and they have the same other variations I explained, so I was happy. On the job I would stop at a coffee stand, go to the window, order a ‘shot’ and enjoy my dose of caffeine, the only cuppa I fancied was tea…
    Cheers!
    FBC.

    1. Pardner, once in a while someone insists we go for a cup at Starbucks. One Grande de Huge-o plain, black, coffee-o-day and I am wired for hours. I’ve had the “E” in Italy, and once grabbed a puny little demitasse from a Turkish vendor. Good, sure, but I have not learned to properly imbibe. Coffee to me is best in big gulps, again harkening back to days (nights) when “smoke’m if you got’m” was the word. Use or lose. Don’t go all intolerant on me. Cuba ain’t the only country makes good sammiches, you know. Have a great one, Great One. SP

      1. No-o-o! Get outta here! Next someone will tell me pizza was not invented in Palermo. Or French Fries not in Paris. Or Cinco de Mayo not in Guadalajara? Oh, the lies I am forced to accept!

      2. Compadre! This I know. Part of my snide remarkery. As French Fries, Pizza, and so on. In ‘Murica, Cinco de Mayo is “Dink beer and eat tacos” day. Real class we got here in ‘Murica! (That too, a snide remark.)

      3. I’m learning, I’m learning. Important I learn cultural differences. Knowing, I can respect (he-he – and now and again, capitalize on) them. I have marvelous instructors. One you may know. Hangs his hat in Valencia. Oh, hey! Ain’t you from Valencia?

      4. Being that I am from València I may know him…and while you’re learning you are teaching as I’ve said before, my Standard American English has improved enormously reading your stories, rants and news items. Splendid mate,
        Cheers!
        FBC.

    1. Wouldn’t go that far. I understand there are those who actually drink ice cubes in liquid form. Imma allow it’s okay to have both football and football.

      1. Try to keep up. We’re gonna pick up the pace in a bit… Ice cubes melted is water; some folk DRINK that? Yuk. But I wouldn’t criminalize the act. Football is NFL. Football is soccer.

      2. Si. But for Sir Hobbo, I was explaining (as an American) Football (to us) is Football. Soccer, to us, is not football, but soccer. See, si?

      1. Ah, you done good! I depend on that. That accomplished, I dare embrace a cuppa Joe. Lessee… What’s nasty and good? Apple cake? Leftover Scones? The last of the Boss’s white chocolate/cranberry cookies?

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