The Second Cup

In my pre-child days, I was something of a food snob. I read magazines and articles and remembered the names of ‘it’ restaurants in other cities; for personal use or making suggestions to friends when they were travelling and looking for good places to eat. (Or just for feeling like a with-it, in-the-know kind of person.)

But then we had kid(s)(s) and taking them along to fine dining establishments seemed both unlikely and undesirable. So I set my sights on more attainable pleasures instead: coffee.

Since I fell into a state of caffeine dependency courtesy of my blond-wonders, it seemed only fitting that I would forego my pre-child days as a food snob and become a with-child coffee snob instead.

A good meal can set you back $100. A good latte costs roughly $5. A good meal must be eaten in a nice restaurant at a table with glasses and plates and things that can be broken. A latte can be enjoyed in a to-go cup, while sitting in your decrepit, smelling-of-rotten-oranges minivan listening to less-than-civilized children.

Hypothetically speaking. Plus, with coffee, when your kids demand that you share with them, you can’t. Because it’s coffee.

But of course, even $5 lattes add up, so I have become a fairly good in-home coffee maker. Drip cone. Unbleached filters. Good beans ground for exactly 18 seconds. Because life is too short to drink gross coffee.

So, when I was in the Windy City a couple of weeks ago, enjoying my second Intelligentsia latte in as many days, I purchased a Hario ceramic drip cone. Because the plastic drip cone I’d purchased at Monmouth three years earlier was cracked and threatened to abandon us at any moment.

In our hour(s) of need.

I also bought a new coffee grinder because the professor had dropped the lid to our old one on the tile floor in the kitchen and it had fractured, neatly, down the middle. I couldn’t bear the thought of trying to grind coffee beans one morning and ending up with a handful of plastic instead of the much-needed grounds.

So, back in Canadaland, with my not-so-fancy accoutrements, I made my first cup. After reading online about all manner of ridiculousness: washing out the filter, pre-wetting the grounds, ‘coax[ing] extraction of solids from the grounds.’ There was even talk of the need for a $60 pouring kettle.

I couldn’t be bothered to become this anal about coffee brewing, so I skipped the washing and the pre-wetting and used my go-to plastic measuring cup to ‘pour over‘ instead of a fancy steel kettle. Even with my low-class method, the first cup tasted pretty good.

But the second cup. And I make two every morning – one for me and one for the professor – not so good. Of course, you could repeat the entire process and waste two paper filters and probably get two passable cups of coffee, but who has time for that?

We’re the Johnsons. We get up at 8.05am and still manage to have our son to school by 8.15. We don’t have ten minutes to spend on brewing coffee.

All this to say there’s been a bit of a fight chez nous for the coveted first cup of coffee: the good one. Since the coffee making usually falls to me, I’ve taken it upon myself to enjoy the first cup guiltfree, passing along whatever’s in that second cup to the professor.

But the other morning, il profesore made the coffee. He set the cup in front of me. I tasted it. ‘What is that?’ I sputtered. ‘That’s the second cup,’ he laughed and walked away.

Perhaps if we had a pouring kettle…..

4 thoughts on “The Second Cup

  1. Husband outdid himself at Christmas a couple of years ago and bought me a (really) nice espresso machine. I have become a bit of a coffee snob myself….. I just wish I could learn to put the fancy designs on top of my lattes like they do at coffee houses!


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