My brother Mike, co-founder of Grind Brew Love, has posted a picture of David Lynch on our Facebook page a couple times now. In it, the director-extraordinaire is quoted as saying, “Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all.”
This may surprise you–especially if you have read the GBL philosophy–but I completely agree. I can’t tell you how many god-awful cups of swill I’ve consumed in my life, and I’d drink every last one of them again. Gas station coffee that was sitting on the burner for 12 hours, late-night diner mud, over steeped, under steeped, too strong, too weak, too much milk, too much sugar, campfire scorched, I’ve had it all. Because at the end of the day it was still coffee. Except that one time, but we don’t talk about that.
I liken bad coffee to cheap liquor. It tastes like battery acid, but it gets the job done. And while I’m certainly not in it for the caffeine boost, even a poor facsimile of coffee can evoke memories of better cups gone by. I drift off in those moments and remember the sweet kiss of a mocha cappuccino, or the domineering slap of an espresso. Sometimes both simultaneously, cheeky monkey.
Even when these trips down memory lane go awry and I find myself peering over the rim of a boiling cup of Joe–from the wrong side–I tolerate the pain and forge ahead. Because listen, there will be days when all of the fresh coffee is gone and you stumble across that three month old, half-empty can of Chuck Fullagers Maxswillmus. You’ll glance over your shoulder, then steal away to some distant and dark corner of the kitchen, like putting yourself in a spiritual time out. Cracking the lid, none of those wonderful aromas you’ve come to expect from coffee are present. Only a stale, acrid odor.
And yet you find yourself tiptoeing to the coffee maker and silently pouring the grounds into a filter. You add the water. Wait–check again to make sure no one sees! You’d hate to be caught in the act. This is sacrilege. This is weakness. This is your lowest point. And why? Why has it come to this, you ask?
Yes. Coffee made you do it. Even the promise of an awful cup is the promise of that most sought after beverage. I’m not proud. I am that cowering man in the kitchen. And I will be again.
If there is any one benefit to the low moments, it’s that it reinforces the reason I take extra time to grind and brew fresh coffee. After drinking bad coffee, good coffee makes love to your tongue–which I now realize sounds perverse on many levels. But I stick to my ill-conceived phrasing! Caffeinated tongue love.