Morning buzz

I generally don’t trust people who don’t drink coffee. I trust them a only slightly more than I trust people who actively dislike dogs, which I strongly believe to be a serious character flaw. There are all kinds of reasons not to drink coffee, some more legitimate than others. Some kind of bizarre and unfortunate allergy is an easy out; on the other hand, say, avoiding caffeine because you don’t want to be dependent on it raises concerns that you probably have too much self-discipline to be interested in friendship with me, anyway.

I drink coffee. I drink lots of coffee. Sometimes I have trouble falling asleep because I’m so excited for coffee in the morning. Free of concerns about dependence upon it, I would administer my first cup of the day intravenously if only I didn’t so enjoy the taste. I love coffee.

I’m not alone. It’s a staple. Think of all the best expedition accounts—Ernest Shackleton in Antarctica, Teddy Roosevelt in the Amazon, Major Powell on the Colorado—what have they brought? Flour, bacon, cigarettes, coffee. Flour is wet and moldy from a spill in the river; bummer. Bacon ran out long ago (it’s always first to go), tough luck. These guys run out of coffee and the shit hits the fan: suddenly your ship’s stuck in the rapidly freezing sea ice or your crew is being attacked by carnivorous fish or people are scaling the walls of the Grand Canyon to escape the expedition. Not a coincidence, if you ask me.

The best cup of coffee I’ve ever had was actually probably really bad coffee—watery but warm, next to a hot wood-burning stove in a room full of taxidermied megafauna at a remote lodge in the Talkeetnas, with frostbite on two toes and three fingertips and my rescuer across the table from me (thanks, Bill). It was a good feeling, all around.

Five best ways to make coffee, in order: percolator over a fire, cowboy coffee (most glamorous; beautiful in its simplicity), percolator over a stove, aeropress, French press. Out of the backcountry, I prefer a Mr. Coffee to a fancy coffee maker because 1) I’m not a snob and 2) okay, maybe I am, a little, but those always break and they’ve got too many buttons and a Mr. Coffee does just fine.

There may come a day when I have to cut back: pregnancy, maybe, or some kind of heart condition. I don’t relish the idea of going coffee-less for an extended period (i.e. more than eight hours), but I could manage. I’d have to go cold turkey; I don’t have the self-control to drink one cup a day, and give me death before decaf.

“I used to be fiend,” I’ll say wistfully when someone like me asks how I take my coffee.

Until then, I’ll savor my two-to-four cups a day, sip by sip, as our adventuresome ancestors intended: unadulterated by cream or sugar.

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