I like a hot, strong cup of coffee in the morning.
I don’t want coffee that is hotel room strength, so weak and dishwatery that you see the bottom of the cup. I want a jumbo-sized cup that is jet black and bold, piping hot and steaming. I don’t care if it stains my teeth or leaves a faint whiff of stale coffee breath. I’ll gladly trade those unfortunate but remediable consequences for that welcome jolt.
Much as I like a strong cup of coffee, I freely concede that there are reasonable limits to coffee strength. A former attorney at our firm was legendary for preparing a hair-curling concoction known as Sheldonbrau. Made with approximately 15 coffee packets and a half pot of water, it could melt the eyeballs of the unwary and dissolve dental fillings. I don’t go quite that far.
I don’t need to stand a spoon in my morning joe, but I do want to taste that rich, dark, hearty tang that helps to open my eyes and prepare me for the day ahead. Kish, incidentally, makes it just right.
Much of my morning blindly follows a routine. Get up, get dressed, feed the dogs, take them for a walk — all of it happens with mindless mechanical regularity. The first real decision I must make is the choice of a mug for my morning coffee.
Over the years, Kish and I have accumulated an eclectic collection of coffee mugs. We began with a set of unadorned white mugs, the kind you might see at a basic diner in any American city. We’ve added to that baseline through gifts, handouts at seminars or from hotels, hand-me-downs, and purchases at gift shops or college campus stores. We’ve got nice cups and saucers too, mind you, but those are for evening company, not the shot of morning java. Who wants to be fumbling with fancy saucers when you’re still bleary-eyed, moving from room to room as you get ready for work?
We’ve now got mugs of all colors, shapes and sizes. Each has its own feel and context, too . . . making the morning choice a particularly devilish one. I think about my work day ahead and wonder whether this is a day for a big black mug that holds an ocean of joe or for one of the basic, indestructible, well-used white mugs. If I’m feeling adventurous, I might choose the old-fashioned mug with the tiny round finger hole that looks like it might have once served as the mug where a barber mixed shaving cream before lathering up a customer. If it’s a weekend, I might go for one of our dog options — but I’m not going to select a puppy-theme mug if I’ve got a tough deposition on the schedule.
Imagine our delight when Penny and I stepped outside at 5 a.m. this morning and it was . . . cool. Magnificently, delightfully cool!
After weeks of oppressive temperatures, scalding days and hot, sticky nights, the cool, fresh air was glorious to experience. I’m guessing that the overnight temperature had dipped into the mid-50s. It was like a shot of some ultra-powerful energy drink to feel the slight chill on the skin and hairs on my arms. We moved quickly through the crisp air, our pace keeping us comfortably warm, looking with pleasure at the stars and constellations etched brilliantly in the dark, clear skies.
By the end of the walk, with rose-fingered dawn just peeking over the eastern horizon, I happily realized that, for the first time in weeks, my shirt was not wringing wet with sweat at the end of our walk. After our journey through the welcome chill, my hot cup of coffee tastes especially good.
If you’ve watched a basketball game on TV lately — particularly on the Big Ten Network — you’ve seen the commercials for the 5-hour Energy product. It’s an energy drink that comes in a little bottle that features the silhouette of a guy sprinting over rocks on the label.
There are three ads. One features a frumpy woman who needs help getting up for her morning workout; she decides to skip coffee, slugs down some 5-hour Energy instead, and next we see her, well-coiffed and in a perky workout outfit, smiling as she strides on the treadmill. Another shows a guy with bed head who hates mornings and has only 20 minutes to get ready for work. Coffee would take too long so he reaches in the cupboard, takes a drink of 5-hour Energy, smacks his lips, and shortly is jogging down the stairs, straightening his tie and ready to kick ass at work.
Our favorite commercial begins with the perils of coffee drinking. Coffee takes so long and is such a pain! A glum guy spoons grounds into a coffee pot. Arrgh! An executive fumbles with his coffee cup and papers as he leaves his house. I hate it when that happens! An incredibly antsy woman, neck veins popping, looks at her watch and audibly sighs as she waits impatiently in line at a coffee shop. (Seriously, does this woman really need more energy? She already looks totally amped and ready to take a swing at the next person who hesitates in giving their coffee order. After she gets some caffeine she probably charges out the door and bites the head off a chicken.) And then we cut to the relaxed guy in his kitchen. He eschews the horrors of the coffee grind. Instead he takes a little sip of the product, nods with satisfaction, looks at his watch, sits back down, puts his foot on the kitchen table, and leisurely reads his paper. It makes you wonder why he didn’t have time to make coffee in the first place.
The commercials suggest that the product works instantaneously. This concerns me. I’m not sure my aging system can handle a substance that provides energy faster than an injection of liquid adrenalin. The idea of taking a swig from a tiny bottle of room temperature liquid doesn’t have much appeal, either. I’m not interested in sprinting over rocks, and I really don’t want to find out what happens when that five-hour burst comes to an end. I therefore conclude that I am not in the target market for this product. I just wish I could avoid their commercials.