Press On by Judith Ann Moriarty The Storyteller

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No way Jose will I go without my café’. My java; my cup of a.m. lava to lubricate the hours ahead. I didn’t begin drinking the brew until my early 30s and I haven’t ceased since then. You do the math. Those are a lot of beans over the hill.
I’ve found ‘em, ground ‘em, froze ‘em, disposed of ‘em. Beans are part of my life, though once the desire to grind them passed, I decided it suited me fine to buy the beans already ground. I mean, I defy you to taste the difference, all things equal.

 

I grew up a few miles from where Mrs. Olson lived in Stanton, Iowa, home to Norweigians of discriminating tastes. The 96-foot-tall, 70-year-old water tower outside of town was shaped like a cup and saucer. It was recently dismantled and after much discussion over many cups of coffee, moved three blocks west. Hardly anyone out there recalls “Mrs. Olson” and her smiling face. I Googled her as I couldn’t remember what company she represented. Her info didn’t come up, but wasn’t she a pitch woman for Folgers?
In my coffee life I’ve run thru various styles of pots, but perhaps the one I remember best, is a Corning Ware electric pot, white with the popular “cornflower” pattern embellishing its side. It was the star of my Brookfield Brady Bunch kitchen, my gold and avocado kitchen with what seemed like miles of Armstrong’s vinyl (Montina pattern) underfoot. I waxed that thing religiously, on my hands and knees like a dutiful supplicant to the housewife religion. When the wax applied (Klear) yellowed, I removed it with wax removal, again on my hands and knees, supplicant fashion. I dusted with Pledge, cleaned glass with Windex, and now and then took a time out for a cup of brew followed by a nap on my down-filled gold brocade couch. It was the 70s dear. I lived large. I even had opulent swag curtains.
Anyway, as the years drifted onward, I tried various pots, depending on what was chic. Finally settling on the ultimate tool, the French Press. For years it reigned supreme in my kitchen, waiting for its daily dose of six big scoops of ground coffee followed by boiling hot water, followed by a good stir, followed by a steeping period, and then a plunge with the press. Into the cup. Ahhhh. Not just any cup, but one a friend made for me in the 70s. Earthenware. My French Press, the first one I owned, was encased in a red plastic “girdle.” It dressed up the otherwise boring glass container. A French Press only sounds sexy. It isn’t. I lost it when I moved to West Bend, but found another in black at Starbucks but it developed a mysterious crack, so today I found myself searching for a replacement at various stores packed to the nines with desperate looking shoppers.
When did coffee machines become so enormous? One of the store managers had never heard of a French Press, likely because it doesn’t require extra parts and is therefore not a profitable item to carry, unless you sell coffee to go with it. Starbucks does.
So back I went to Starbucks where I ordered a new French Press, in black, but that’s okay, as it will match my coffee. I left carrying a medium sized Chestnut latte mooshed into a bright red cup.
I tried to imagine a ginormous coffee machine sitting on my kitchen counter. Almost as big as a small VW, it would need its own zip code methinks. And most of them were plug ugly, not compact and sleek like my utilitarian French Press. A salesperson said that some of the more elaborate coffee units go for upwards of $300. Just think how many cups that would buy at your local café.
As I waited at Starbucks for my Chestnut Latte, the gentleman standing next to me was also waiting for his Chestnut Latte. We struck up a conversation and I told him my granddaughter worked her way through college by working at a Starbucks in Arizona. “Grandma,” she would write at the end of a java-filled day, “You wouldn’t believe how picky some people are. They want their java at a certain temperature and flavor. When I go home at night I can’t get the smell of coffee off my skin.” It helped pay the bills. Now she’s an attorney living in Sydney, Aus. Where she sits in outdoor cafes and drinks tea.
Drink up all you happy people. Press on.

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