My friends, I just hate what I’ve become. 

Mark LaFlamme

Just a few short years ago, if I was at your house and, in place of real coffee, you offered me some tar-like substance from the bottom of an old pot you found behind the furnace in your basement, I’d have taken it gratefully.  

“Oh, yes please,” I would have said. “I have some curdled milk in the back of my car and, oh look! Here’s a packet of 7-Eleven sugar I found in my shoe. Bring that tar-like substance up here at once and I’ll have me a cup!” 

I would have gulped that vaguely coffee-ish substance down in happy slugs and I would have LIKED it. 

Later, at the emergency room, I would have contented myself with vending machine coffee once the stomach pumping was over. And I would have liked that just fine, too. 

Coffee, to me, was always a means to the end. Who cared about sissy things like bean origin, flavor profiles or richness, when all you were after was a nerve-jangling caffeine buzz that would get you through your busy day. 

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Gas station coffee nine hours old and burnt to the bottom of the pot? Out of my way, sucker. I’ll have that with one of those week-old red hot dogs I found underneath the beer cooler. 

Instant coffee from a poorly sealed canister that’s been rolling around in the trunk of your car for two decades? Boil some water, bubba, and let’s have a mug or three. 

When I was a young lad getting up at 5 a.m. to go pump gas in the grip of a frigid Maine winter, I began the day with a cup of instant coffee scraped from a jar. You had your Folgers, your Nescafe, your Sanka, and it made no nevermind to me because my tongue and taste buds were really no part of the process. I just dumped whatever it was down my gullet so it could get into my bloodstream and jack my blood pressure up a few dozen points. I wasn’t some ascot-wearing weenie having tea with her highness the queen, after all. I’d have guzzled that sludge out of an old boot if I had to. 

They call it Joe for a reason. My brand of coffee was as humble as can be. And all was right in the world for me, back then, because if you’re OK with bad coffee, you’ll never go without. 

But alas, some fool came along and changed all that for me by suggesting that I give roasting my own beans a try. 

“Roast your own beans,” the fool said. “Brew your coffee in a French press and you will never be able to have it any other way.” 

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I scoffed, I sneered, I snorted, which hurt a little. But then I got down to the matter of roasting beans, grinding beans and preparing my subsequent brew in a French press, mainly because the paper indulged the fool by demanding a feature story about the whole snooty process. 

My first sip of that concoction was a revelation. This wasn’t a humble cup of Joe as I knew it, this was ambrosia. I dare say those roasted beans and that French press transformed me. I began sniffing my coffee before sipping it and saying things like, “Heavens! You can really taste the islands in this brew. Fruity yet not obnoxiously so.” 

I ditched my cracked and scuffed glass mug for something dainty and ceramic, which would more efficiently embrace the flavor contained therein. I would hoist my pinky as I sipped and I’d give droll commentary on the flavor profile of that particular roast. 

“Perfectly splendid. An assertive bean yet somehow passive. Say, would you hand me a napkin, my good chap? I seemed to have dribbled on my ascot.” 

My sudden coffee snootery transformed me into a different person and frequently led to confrontations like this one: 

Generous host: “Can I get you a cup of coffee?” 

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Me: “Can you tell me what time the beans were roasted?” 

Generous host: “Get out of my house.” 

And that conversation was with my mother. 

My roasted bean and French press fixation lasted about six months. It ended when some fool I had married suggested that I might like cold brew coffee even better. 

“Heavens!” I responded. “I dare say that is quite unlikely. This French press business is just tops, my good man.” 

First my wife demanded that I stop calling her “my good man.” Then she prepared some cold brew coffee for me and . . . Eureka! Out with that French press swill — had I REALLY deemed that backwash ambrosia! What a fool I was back then — and in with cold brew, which is not only more flavorful, but far easier to prepare, as well. 

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“I have been transformed!” I declared to the kitchen, finger upraised to the heavens, ascot flying all over the place. “Never again shall I desire a cup of coffee that hasn’t been prepared with the cold brew method! I have discovered the beans of the gods!” 

And so after that profound experience, it’s been cold brew coffee for me all the way. I can tolerate Dunkin if I’m on the road, but when I drink it, I do so with lofty derision, insisting to anybody who will listen that my own cold brew is superior to the muddy slop served in any of the fancier coffee shops. 

I’d go door to door preaching the word of the cold brew carafe if I thought it would help deliver you poor souls from that wretched paste you swill morning after morning. 

So I’ve become a coffee elitist and I hate myself for it. I take comfort in the fact that after all of this, I’m STILL not as pompous and unbearable as your average coffee shop connoisseur, whose coffee order is so long and complicated, it takes 30 minutes just to say it right. 

I’m a curious kind of coffee snob, I guess. I have absolutely no idea what a latte, a cappuccino or a left-handed garden-fed ristretto is and have no desire to know. You can sprinkle all the cinnamon, chocolate or powdered elk horn you want into that swill, you just won’t be able to improve on the perfection that is cold brew coffee. 

My ascot and I have spoken.

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