SATURDAY’S CHILD: Coffee, tea or me?
In my grandmother’s house, we always had three kinds of “tea” – green tea, coffee tea and cocoa tea.
Sometimes, for a treat, we had “milo” tea. I preferred “coffee” tea and have maintained that preference ever since. I have now reached the point where I don’t sweat – I percolate and my life’s goal is to amount to a hill of beans.
My continuing to drink coffee has nothing to do with some studies that have found coffee to be an aphrodisiac for middle-aged men. I like the taste and smell, although by the fifth or sixth cup, I hardly notice. Some studies show that caffeine, the stimulant found in coffee, is addictive. After my tenth cup, that hardly matters. What matters is the headache that comes from not having my morning coffee or from my infrequent efforts to stop drinking the stuff.
Tea, which is also heavily loaded with caffeine, is not my cup of anything. Coffee is. So much so, in fact, that Juan Valdez named his donkey after me. My wife once tasted a cup of my coffee and said it tasted like mud. However, as I explained to her, it was ground only ten minutes before.
Coffee does not keep me awake at nights. It keeps my wife awake worrying about its effects on my health. She is convinced that it is bad for me and that my arteries are as hard as rock stone and are getting as rigid as my determination to continue drinking fresh percolated coffee. When I say it “perks” me up,
she cites evidence from every health magazine and research study to show that coffee is bad for me. I tell her that I am so healthy that I can tackle any blue mountain that is put before me.
Do I get the shakes, nervousness or irregular heartbeats that my wife is convinced will happen? No, and I don’t have diabetes either. Recent research has shown that if you drink several cups of coffee every day you are less likely to get Type 2 diabetes than if you drink any of the other beverages.
Fortunately, I am not like the lady who angrily returned her coffee-maker to the store. Her husband had bought her one of the very fancy ones with all the latest gadgets on it. The salesman had carefully explained how everything worked. He showed her how to plug it in and set the timer. He told her. “Then you can go to bed and when you wake up the coffee is ready.” “So what’s the problem? Is it damaged?” the salesman asked when the lady came back with the coffee-maker. “No,” the lady explained. “It’s working and the coffee is wonderful. What I don’t understand is why I have to go to bed every time I want to make a cup of coffee?”
Coffee has now become a very big industry with global franchises making money. It is the “bucks” in Starbucks. It has its own magazines like Fresh Cup. Coffee is now so widely accepted and used that it has legal sanction as a basis for the dissolution of a marriage. A man who had suffered for years from the terrible coffee his wife made took the percolator to his lawyer demanding action. Taking one taste and then examining the particles lodged in the filter, the lawyer shook his head in agreement, “Yes,” he said. “You do have grounds for divorce.”
Coffee has become a gourmet experience bordering on the decadent. According to Fresh Cup, “It is almost a religious experience to watch the roaster sorting through the cooling tray to remove the culls and broken beans, all the while watching the fire box, listening to the beans and trying to keep cool in front of the blazing, crackling machine . . . . Only then can you introduce the beans. You must watch closely as you approach the second pop, and you must dump the beans at just the right time. Under the watchful eye of the roaster, wood-roasted coffee does indeed pick up the nuances of the wood.”
Commenting on different coffees served at a competition, one gourmet said: “Some were sublimely subtle and elegant in their flavour. Then you had the big symphony orchestra coffees that just blasted you to the other side of the room.”
People who just like coffee find great difficulty in the politically correct world where, in Los Angeles, the waiters ask, “Would you like decaffeinated or non-decaffeinated?” Now it has got even worse. You have a choice of shade-grown, Bird Friendly, Eco-OK, Fair Trade, organically grown and certified organic. You can have cappuccinos and lattes, mochaccinos and espressos – to your heart’s detriment, if you listen to my wife. Regardless of your preference whether your wife is your coffee mate or not, you can now boldly announce that every cup you drink makes it less likely that you will get Type 2 diabetes. So, when anyone asks me: “How are you?” I reply with confidence: “Good to the last drop.”
•Tony Deyal was last thrown out of the Red Cross for failing the examination. When asked what “CPR” meant he said, “coffee perpetually refreshes”.