Sadly, I have to acknowledge something here and now: I have been making coffee incorrectly for eighteen years.
Maybe more. It’s only eighteen years that I have been drinking coffee myself, but now it seems certain that I made it badly for my dad, godparents, various visitors, ironing board-salesmen, and clipboard carriers, for many years before then.
I was overweight, quite astonishingly so, and realised at the now-deeply distant age of seventeen, that it was because I drank too much cola. I was getting through a good couple of litres a day, so whatever weight it had caused me to gain, it also allowed me to maintain, for quite a while. I didn’t carry it well. It seemed that my growth spurt got stuck around my lower back and settled in to eat donuts.
Now, a sensible person might have scaled back the amount of liquid sugar they were drinking, gradually lowering the dosage until they no longer needed the high and perhaps the additional pounds would melt away at a reasonable rate. I didn’t really think about it. I gave up soft drinks, cold turkey.
Two stone fell off me. Fell off me. Nearly thirty pounds gone inside six weeks, and with that, I became a walking stretch-mark from a reasonably young age.
True, I was drinking my coffee with about seven sugars, in order to make it even halfway palatable, but somehow it was still far fewer calories than I had become accustomed to.
In the sorry old days of my ex, I discovered that some people, people who might seem decent but are in fact intolerable, don’t care for instant coffee.
I don’t say, even for a moment, that people who can’t cope with instant coffee are uniformly up to no good. It might be worth keeping an eye on them, is all. However, I didn’t realise she was evil at the time, so I invested in a cafetière.
Rather sooner than I was entirely comfortable with, she informed me that I was using it wrong. You couldn’t just boil a kettle, spoon great scattered dollops of rich roasted coffee (from beans) into the glass jug, and pour the water over the top, gradually lowering the plunger to push the goodness up into drinkable form.
Boiling the kettle was just the beginning.
One would (indeed, ‘one’; she was a bit like that) need to boil the kettle, fill the cafetière with boiling water to allow the glass to warm, refill the kettle, reboil it, empty the cafetière of boiling water, add the spooned goodness of ground beans, fill with water from the kettle, hardly pay attention to the plunger and wait. From the way she had me making coffee for her, it might as well have been frappuccino. The hot water in the cafetière added nothing because, by the time she was ready for the plunger to be depressed, the water was cooling rapidly. But allegedly, I had been making coffee wrongly by using instant.
I now discover that I have, in fact, been making instant coffee incorrectly, by pouring kettle-fresh hot water onto the cremated remnants of a bean.
Seemingly, I should have left the kettle a couple of minutes after boiling before pouring into a mug.
And my question is this: What the hell happened that even instant coffee feels like a military operation?
When everything else is failing: the economy, international relations, various coups and natural disasters, personal relationships, multitudes of lies and mishaps, drink-related hijinks and general libido-driven idiocy, it would be nice to believe that at least I know how to make a cup of coffee.
As it turns out: nope.
I make a cracking cup of tea, though.
And let’s face it, everything is better with cake.
I have decided to play to my strengths: I shall grumble and then bake something.