Thursday, November 20, 2014

Me and My Coffee

"A small cup of coffee" by Julius Schorzman - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
While it's not exactly "coffee week" here at the Chant du Départ, an incident at my local Dunkin' Donuts on Wednesday morning got me thinking about coffee. Tuna's post Musings of a Coffee Veteran was a further spur to send me down this particular path. Let's relate that Wednesday morning story first.

Every work day I stop at the same Dunkin' Donuts here in Fair-Rhody-By-The-Sea. (Not my town's real name but as the Cap'n has his MetroParkCentralis and Tam her Broad Ripple I now have this. Such as it is. Okay, so I'm not that creative. Now where was I... Oh yeah, coffee.)

Now this is not the same 
Dunkin' Donuts I used to frequent on my way to my place of employment. No, that was pre-exile, this new one has become my Dunkin' Donuts only in the last couple of years. I started going to this one because it is within a quarter-mile of Chez Sarge and I got into the habit of acquiring the occasional Saturday breakfast there. I got to know the folks who work there, they chided me for using the one "downtown," and eventually I transferred my allegiance to this "new" place. (Which when we first moved here was something else entirely, not a Dunkin' Donuts, but that is a story for another day. If I remember...)


I arrive to find three annoying things. The first is the standard big pickup truck parked immediately in front of the store in the special "Fire Lane, No Parking" parking lot. Apparently if one is in a hurry it's okay to violate the parking ordinances here in Fair-Rhody-By-The-Sea. So that's the first thing.

Inside we have the owner-operator of said pickup truck waving his receipt in the air and looking all around as if he's expecting someone to react to that. As far as I can see, no one, other than me, even notices his somewhat odd behavior. So that's the second thing.

Now at the counter is a guy ordering coffee and approximately 8 feet from the counter is another guy who is giving no hint as to his purpose in the store. Is he perusing the list of things one can buy at 
Dunkin' Donuts or is he actually waiting in line? Some folks around here have a concept of personal space that is admirable but rather impractical for waiting in line. If one is going to wait in line one should actually be, you know, in line.

The chap glances at me, I look to the counter and then look at where he is standing with a quizzical look on my visage. He gets the point and moves forward to actually be, in line. That was the third thing.

So now I'm actually in a line, Waves-Receipt-In-Air (Annoying Thing 2) has left the building (and moved his humongous pickup truck - Annoying Thing 1) and only Doesn't-Know-Where-Line-Is (Annoying Thing 3) is left. He gets his coffee and moves on. Probably to Montana as he does like his personal space.

I am about to order when OMG-You-Must-Be-Kidding enters the store.

I have seen this guy before and he is a colossal pain in the arse. He appears to be in his sixties but acts like a 12-year-old. A not very bright 12-year-old.

Today he has an old coffee cup full of change which he is cradling and shaking back and forth like some sort of weird tribal ritual is about to begin. Yes, the sound is mildly annoying. Then it gets better, much better. He approaches the counter and stares at the three people working behind the counter. Shakes his head and returns to the wide open spaces behind me. Where I can hear him pacing back and forth, shaking his change container. Then I hear this -
"What the Hell? Three people all working on one order! This is unbelievable! What is going on here?"
To be fair, I had to agree with him. But his antics weren't quite what one expects in modern society. After receiving my iced coffee, I quickly departed the store. As I did so I turned to see OMG-You-Must-Be-Kidding spreading his lucre all over the counter. My word, there had to have been ten dollars in pennies and nickels there. Not a dime or a quarter to be seen, folding money not in evidence.

Like I said, a 12-year-old. Bear in mind, the guy is not mentally handicapped or deficient in any but the finer graces of civilized society. Yes, he is what we like to call, an asshole.

I know, hard to believe but we get a few here. Not many, thank the Lord, and usually they don't get up that early.

Anyhoo. This post is supposed to be about me and my coffee, not random assholes you might meet on the street. At this point The Nuke and The WSO would no doubt point out that Your Humble Scribe could, on certain days, fall into that category. Yes, yes, it's true. There are days when I am not fit for polite company. But Wednesday was not one of those days. Tuesday? Yes. But not Wednesday.

So coffee. What about it?

Oh yeah, me and my coffee.

I didn't start drinking coffee until I got married. Primarily because The Missus Herself drank coffee and would actually make coffee. One fine morning she asked if I would like a cup. So I said, "Why yes, yes I would."

Bear in mind, I had tried coffee as a lad when I would go hunting with my Dad and kid brothers. Dad drank it black, I thought it horrid stuff. 'Twas my better half who taught me about cream and sugar. (I'm sure right now that there are any number of you guys out there thumping your chests and proclaiming your alpha-male status because "a man drinks his coffee black." Nope, sorry. The type of coffee you drink isn't what proclaims your manhood. I would say the ability to field strip a firearm is a better quantifier of manhood. And yes, many women know how to do that and many men do not. Still and all, seriously the ability to savor coffee with nothing in it makes you "a man?" Hhmm, I think I just revealed a pet peeve. So be it. Where were we?)

Coffee. Cream and sugar (nowadays milk and Splenda) and mostly iced. Something else the light of my life introduced me to. I will drink iced coffee when it is 20 below (and have).

One morning in February, walking into work with my iced coffee, one of the security guards fixed me with an unbelieving stare and asked,

"How can you drink iced coffee when it's this cold?"

First I played the born-in-Vermont-you-call-this-cold card and then countered his question with two of my own.

"Do you drink beer in the winter?" To which he replied in the affirmative.

"Do you warm your beer in the winter?" At which point he saw the unassailable logic of my position and ceded his position.

Typically I only drink hot coffee on the weekends. One cup on Saturday, at home, and another on Sunday, at church.

Though lately I have been quaffing a nightly cup of hot decaf in the evening while I ponder what tales to torture regale you, the readers, with. It may be the brew or it may be the coffee cup. I'm not sure.

The WSO got me that cup when I was last out Sandy Eggo way. For to ride the boat*, visit Lex and drink Guinness at Shakespeare's.

What, there are other reasons to visit Sandy Eggo?

Do tell.

* I know Nuke, I know, it's a ship, not a boat. Please humor me, I come from an aviation background. It's only natural that I would adopt the jargon of the Air Wing and not that of ship's company. Besides which, you hate the term "bird farm" even more. And I was sore tempted to use that instead. Sore tempted.


  1. As I read your post, I am sipping from a 16 oz mug of strong coffee with a spoonful of honey and a couple of ounces of heavy whipping cream. Heavy whipping cream has no cholesterol, and one should be health conscious. The 16 oz of liquid is to rehydrate the body after a night's rest.

  2. Very enjoyable blog! I can relate to the above issues but I really DO try not to judge people based on their pre-coffee behaviour because mine is certainly questionable at best! Just ask my wife!

    Admittedly, "Waves-Receipt-In-Air" and "OMG-You-Must-Be-Kidding" are probably past the threshold of acceptable pre-coffee behaviour!!!

    "How can you drink iced coffee when it's this cold?" I've never understood statements like that because as far as I'm concerned, the outside temperature should never determine the temperature of what you consume. While I'm not all that crazy about iced coffee, I certainly drink hot coffee during the summer!!

    1. Yeah, there's behavior I'll tolerate in someone who hasn't had their coffee yet. But some things are beyond the pale.

  3. Iced coffee?

  4. Used to love coffee. Nowadays, thanks to my redesigned digestive system, all coffee does for me is give me stomach upset. I drink tea now. (Still crave my caffeine.) There was a time in my life when I drank around 10 cups a day. (All that caffeine, plus the nicotine, is what kept me going while in Vietnam.) There are days when I really miss a good cup of coffee. Two granddaughters love the DD iced coffee. They get it every time they visit.
    For your enjoyment:

    1. There was a time when I consumed way too much coffee. Had some acid reflux issues and dialed back on my consumption. The reflux is all better now and I'm content with two-a-day. Well, "content" isn't exactly the right word but it's better than naught.

  5. Ah, that's what Iike about our rude NY City. When a OMG-You-Must-Be-Kidding drops his change on the counter he is told, "Get the fuck outta here you asshole!"
    I disliked coffee until I went to college and like you I learned that you could actually put cream and sugar in it. My mom and dad always took it black...I think it was a depression era thing.

    1. Which is why I always say "I heart NY" or something to that effect. (Really, NYC, no pretense, no BS, what's not to love?)

  6. I'm convinced my heart would stop if I quit drinking coffee, which I've been doing since I was in my mid-teens. I HAVE cut back in the last few years, these days I only drink eight cups in the morning instead of a full pot. I take it with half-and-half, a level teaspoon of sugar (no Pink Death or other chemical substitutes, thankyaverymuch), and a level teaspoon of cocoa. I'm a coffee snob, too, in addition to bein' a beer snob. I'm rather fond of Gevalia Columbia at the moment, but also have a supply of Millstone's Foglifter (now THERE'S a name!) on hand.

    1. Better living through chemistry.

      Millstone's Foglifter? Now that I have to track down and try!

  7. Coffee comes in five descending stages: Coffee, Java, Jamoke, Joe, and Carbon Remover. Occasionally I will teach a Signals class for one of the BNSF instructors that's out sick and I get the dubious privilege of drinking the vile liquid that the railroad calls coffee. On a good day it struggles to reach the category of Carbon Remover (suitable for cleaning engine parts or -6 carts). I've never actually poured this in a Styrofoam cup as I'm certain it would dissolve the cup! This I load up heavily with cream, sugar and cocoa.

    1. Oh, it would dissolve the cup. One of my instructors in Tech School (Bill Ames) never washed his coffee cup for fear that crappy coffee would eat his favorite cup.

    2. Ahh, Bill Ames, I remember him well. You had a great instructor. I used to call him Mr.Toothpick. Not so memorable coffee though. I do remember that I even added just a touch of salt to help make it drinkable. Probably lucky I didn't get dain brammage from years of drinking that concoction!

    3. I wondered if you knew Bill. Heh, I had forgotten the toothpick.

      I can picture that right now. Funny how the mind works, course, I never drank any of that coffee.

  8. I drink coffee almost daily.
    I don't require it and don't miss it if there is none.
    I believe I might have been two or three when I started.
    I can't stand decaf ...or maybe it's how it's made?
    I will admit that I enjoy a latte every now and again, but not one of those ginormous go cups.
    Once upon a time I put sugar in my cup.
    Now I use cream ...yes, real cream, unless there isn't any then I will settle for milk or half 'n half.
    I like iced coffee because I can drink it black.
    My first experience with iced coffee was sometime in the fifties.
    I made it myself and everyone thought I was nuts.
    I have proved, a number of times, they were right.
    I don't understand why carrier sailors don't appreciate having their 'boat' called a bird farm.
    That said, submariners call their ships 'boats' and all other ships targets.
    Carrier sailors really gotta hate that?

    1. BTW - the best coffee on my ship was in CIC.
      The CO requested the stewards always get his coffee, when we were underway, from CIC.
      The only problem we ever had was with the medical officer (a Chief Corpsman), who insisted we wash the coffee cups and the pot.

    2. "Real" carrier coffee comes with a pleasing proportion of aromatic DFM. A barely acceptable alternative (now standard, alas) is JP-5 or JP-8.
      "Bird Farm" never bothered me, I just never knew a carrier sailor to use the term. We airwingers prefer "boat." I suspect we would have been happy with "ship" were not the shoes so predictably thin skinned about it. Lots of entertainment value in those thin skins. When they stopped reacting to "boat" there was always door, wall, upstairs, chow hall, rope, etc.
      As for being a "target," there are a lot more subs on the bottom of the sea than carriers. Bad coffee probably had something to do with it.

    3. @Skip - You realize that you could have made your first comment an entire post. One would assume that the CO would always get the best coffee. RHIP.

      @PA - "Bird farm" is probably old-timey (think WWII) talk, right up there with "flat top." I probably read that somewhere.

      You should have heard the conversation I had with The Nuke about the whole ship versus boat thing the other night. You're right PA, the shoes, er Professional Surface Warfare Officers are kinda thin-skinned.

      Problem with submarines is that they used to need to be near the surface to "service" a target. Aircraft like to see (and kill) subs near the surface.

      But yeah, it was probably the coffee.

    4. Sarge - The thing is, CIC had it's own coffee mess.
      Users had to either pay up and join pay as you go, which was extremely expensive.
      The Ol' Man actually joined our coffee mess.
      He could've had Ward Room coffee because it was already paid for.
      We bought his cup, though.

    5. Ah the coffee mess. I've been in shops that had a similar deal. The airmen normally weren't in on it, sergeants and up. Once I got a taste for it, had to have it!

      The coffee onboard the Eisenhower was Starbucks. Of course, that was in the ward room.

  9. Here in MetroParkCentralis, they demolished the closest local Starbucks. Srlsly, with malice aforethought, they smashed it into the ground. We miss it not. It was Panniken mid-west.
    I think I coined the phrase but only in the sense that my favorite actress tossed off phrases. She was wonderful at it. You know, we talked about them last night and we skipped over her very best one (from a guy's perspective) . We got most of them, Roman Holiday, Sabrina, Charade, etc.

    Thanks, you reminded me of Henry Higgins.

    1. I had to look up "Panniken" - what I found was the Pannikin Encinitas Cafe. The same?

      I do prefer Dunkin but will take Starbucks if that's all that's available.

      My wife is also a huge fan of that actress.

      And thank you for the compliments kind Sir.

    2. You got it. There was one at Flower Hill and the good one was up my way in Encinitas in the old train depot.

  10. It's a carrier, hence a boat... :-) And cold coffee? Really??? sigh...

    1. To each his own.

      Picture this - drive through at McDonalds on Little Creek, the height of a Virginia summer, The Nuke relays to the lady on the other end of the magical food ordering device my desire for an iced coffee. The lady replied to this with (in a very heavy Southern accent)...

      "Ya'll want ice in ya coffee? Why?"

      So you're not alone Cajun. Not alone.

  11. This is a good laugh - I needed it. I never acquired a taste for coffee until I joined the Air Force (not the AF with tail numbers but the AF that provided comm to the people who like to talk to the people with tail numbers). I liked coffee with sugar and cream. We we were in the field, we would run out of cream and then we would run out of sugar but we always had another can or two of coffee stuck to the klystron in the SATCOM van, so I learned to drink it black when we were deployed.

    My thoughts on store bought coffee:
    I truly despise Starbucks coffee - it has that 4 hour old acid taste unless you get their souped up fufu drinks that will destroy a $10 bill. Besides the fact they do not know the difference between a medium and large cup or how to make a Macchiato properly.
    Duncan Donuts and Krispy Cream coffee is much better but they have donuts and I do not need the fat pills. Keep me away from temptation.
    Green Beans Coffee shops are a treat - people who have had a MOAC (Mother of all coffees) understand
    But if you want a really good cup of coffee (here in the states) that is just coffee, that you can add sugar and/or cream then you need to go to a Waffle House. It has better coffee than any donut shop or business that has a barista that doesn't serve booze.

    1. I remember the AF that provided comm to the people who like to talk to the people with tail numbers, very useful people indeed!

      Green Beans Coffee looks interesting. Unfortunately the nearest one to my location is at Newark International. Fortunately I travel through there from time to time.

      Guess where I'll be getting coffee next time I fly though Newark?


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