Coffee by Col. Stoopnagle
The word "coffee" comes from two other words -- "cof", meaning "cup", and "fee", meaning "tip". Thus, when drinking coffee, we "tip the cup". And the waitress.

Coffee is not very good unless it's been moistened and boiled after being spooned from the container. There is such a thing as putting a lump of sugar into a cup of coffee without getting the sugar wet; simply drop the sugar into a cup of dry, ground coffee. This is a capital stunt to enliven dull dinner parties while the guests are sipping their "demi-tasses". "Demi-tasse" is a term concocted by the French for American use; it's just a fancy way of saying "small cup". In France, when they want a demi-tasse, they say "small cup", but with a decided French accent. So much for our allies.

My mother used to throw a handful of ground coffee into a pot of boiling water and then follow through with an old eggshell. The shell was to settle the grounds. It also settled a lot of arguments. But nowadays, many coffee-makers use percolators and measure the coffee with meticulous care, so that it tastes different each day. In olden times, without measuring, it was always the same -- lousy.

Because of the fast pace of our modern lives, industry has thrust upon us many "prepared" coffees. You simply boil some water, put a teaspoonful of powder into a cup, pour in the hot water, and you have a delicious drink that tastes just as good as though you had taken a teaspoonful of powder, put it into a cup, and poured hot water over it. If you are in an extra special rush, you can now take a cube of coffee extract, and, with a little practice, learn to toss it all the way across the kitchen with deadly aim right into the pan of bubbling water. This saves steps, eliminates the bother of getting out a cup and saucer, and splashes all over everything. Then you just drink the coffee right out of the pan. There are several nice salves for blistered lips.

Be sure you coffee is always kept in a refrigerated place, like bananas should not, to make the flavor stay in. A safe deposit box in a bank is the best place. But if you should find a little of the flavor has leaked out, it's nobody's vault but your own.

[From ?, Vest Pocket Essays, circa 1940's]


Page created March 16, 2005.  Copyright 1998-2005 by Richard D. Squires.