The Coffee Conundrum

It topped out at just a little above freezing today, and I spent much of the late morning and early afternoon chopping, scraping, and shoveling snow and ice from the walkway, stairways, and the path between the two stairways–stripped down to a sweater and hat thanks to the sunshine and warmth caused by too many holiday brownies.

M helped–especially with the impossible stairway leading up to the highway, which seems to be part of the MNDOT “Growing Our Own Olympic Luge Team” program–every time they plow the highway, they spray a cascade of new snow down through there, turning it into an icy sled run.

I worked on scraping the top steps while M kicked the mountain of snow down to the bottom for removal.  And then we switched off, so I could heave the heavy, wet snow and ice chunks out of the way as we worked backward down the stairs.

The object is to get the whole thing cleared out in preparation for the next snow-and-ice storm starting tonight–and to make it a little safe for H, who is at this moment on his way north to see us.

H’s visit, while a very happy thing for M and I, reignites the problem with the coffee situation: my three dollar thrift store automatic drip machine gave out a little over a month ago, and I haven’t decided what to do about it yet.

First, let me say that I hate pretty much all counter-top appliances.  Sure, I have a toaster and a food processor and two crockpots (all of which live in the cupboards when not in use)–and then there’s all the food-preservation related equipment that lives in the basement much of the year.

The house I’m renting came with a microwave, which is OK, I guess, and I use it every once in awhile, but I’ve never seen the worth of buying one and plunking it down on a sizable chunk of counter space that could be used for food prep or bread kneading.

The only appliance I own that has ever been allowed to live on the counter full time is the coffee pot, but since this one died, I’m kind of liking the promising empty space in the corner by the stove.

Besides, I’ve got a little one-cup gold filter gizmo that makes a passable mug of joe in the morning, and using it has drastically cut down on my caffeine consumption.

When I had the electric maker, I’d have to make at least a half pot for it to turn out right, and although I promised myself daily that I’d save some for mid-afternoon, I’d always end up drinking it all and then suffering an extreme energy crash about one or two in the afternoon.

Now, I drink my one cup in the morning (sometimes putting a little more water through the same grounds), and I have a cup of black tea in the mid-to-late afternoon, and my energy level stays quite a bit more steady throughout the day.

But.

H loves his coffee.  He loves it a LOT.  And when H comes to visit, there’s always the question of who gets the first cup in the morning (OK–it’s me because I get up first to let the dog out), and then in order to make the second cup the grounds need dumping and the filter needs washing (which I do out of penance for always getting the first cup).  What a pain.

And then what about subsequent cups?  The poor man really suffers.  His eyes start reverting to blue when he’s a quart low on java.

So, I keep going back and forth on the coffee maker question while I relish the free space on the counter.

My ideal is one of those old-fashioned manual drip #4 Melita cones, but for some reason the manufacturers seem stuck on electric counter top appliances and the old cones are harder and harder to find.  I’m not a big fan of the French press, either–at least not for everyday use.

Still, each time H has come up since the old machine died, I battle breaking down, going to the hardware store, and shelling out the thirty bucks or so for a new one just to make the whole morning routine easier.

Too, when he heads back south, he likes to fill a thermos of coffee for the trip, and doing that with a one-cup manual drip is a real pain in the butt.  Though it does keep him here a little longer.

Now it’s morning, and I’ve made my first manual drip cuppa and ventured out with the dog in the mild morning air.  Everything’s melting, and it’s supremely tempting to get out and start chopping the last bits of ice from the pavement, though the guys are still asleep.

Maybe instead I’ll venture down to that hardware store and look again at the machines they have.  It’d be sweet for H to wake up to his accustomed full pot of coffee, and I won’t have to wash out the filter.

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