I’m behind this week due to several life factors…a sick kiddo, a snow day (including three hours of shoveling and much snow play), and a nearly complete post that poofed into oblivion. Bah! I composed this week’s post as a quick draft rather than in the normal “compose a new post” window, and I stepped away without saving (ahhhhh…fail!). When I came back and resumed typing (it was the next day, but still!), the page refreshed, and all those words were just gone. Bah! Oh well.
I’m not the slightest bit sorry that I’m behind because I could have rewritten the post on Friday and been on track with nary a visible glitch, but my boys were home because we received about 18 inches of snow. I well remember the absolute joy and bliss of such an event. Found time is appreciated no matter our age. Their happy shouts in the winter quiet were a great background to my shoveling sounds of metal on asphalt.
So this is a version of the post I had originally rambled out. This week’s photo is about a ritual and the peace a repeated task can bring. Mine is a ritual many share, but probably in a hundred different renditions: a fabulous mug of morning coffee. So many of us love it. So many of us rely on it to kickstart our days. I rely on that kickstart even though I have had to relinquish the energy burst caffeine provided. I haven’t had much caffeine in almost three years, and I still miss being able to boost a draggy day. It has forced me to sleep with better regularity, though, so there is my silver lining, albeit grudgingly recognized.
While gobs of people enjoy their morning cuppa, there are any number of ways that lovely liquid lands in our mugs. A few years ago, right around the time I gave up caffeine for good, I made the switch to using a French press, and this has become the wake-up routine I crave as much as I crave the mug of warm goodness itself. I love that I have to work for my satisfaction. I love the manual work involved in creating a few relaxing moments for myself. And I really love the coffee this ritual produces.
We do splurge on whole beans from a local roaster. It’s just a smidge more expensive than buying them at the grocery store, and there is no comparison whatsoever in quality and taste. The roaster has a sale each month, and I always buy beans on the sale day, which helps a ton with the cost.
There was a learning curve when we transitioned to using a French press. We had a Keurig, which requires no thought at all. Other than deciding which delicious flavor pod I wanted to pop in the canister. Select flavor, deposit pod, press button, and voila: coffee. Well, (my husband hates it when I start a conversation with these words) I read an article that sent me down a research path that ended with me deciding to move away from my beloved Keurig and “flavored” coffee. I won’t trouble you with any details, but suffice it to say that the exotic process of flavoring coffee beans that I had envisioned, which involved the beans floating happily around with some cinnamon sticks or something, is not how coffee beans are flavored.
Giving up my delicious little slice of heaven every day was probably the hardest change we have made in our now several-years-long journey to put better quality everything into our bodies. I know that everything is going to kill us if we pay attention to all of the articles available to read and that it’s crazy to take make changes based on everything I read about everything we eat. But I’m not just responsible for my body. I’m also raising two small humans, and I would like them to arrive at adulthood with bodies in as healthy a shape as we can get them there. Our family already battles weight issues, and the kids are not exempt from that, so putting quality stuff in their bodies is pretty important to me, and the more I learn, the more I understand that scratch and home grown is safest. I work in several different directions, so I don’t have time to start a compound, which is kinda what I’d like to do. Just have our own chickens and cows and veggie garden and whatever. But it’s beyond my knowledge or time capacity, so we try to make the best choices we can with what we have access to, and we explore new options all the time. I kinda hate knowing stuff. Knowledge is power, but sometimes it also just wrecks all the fun.
SO, no more Timothy’s cinnamon coffee Keurig pods in the morning. No more Italian sweet cream creamer. No more coffee joy.
It took me awhile to find a French press that wasn’t made with any plastic. And then when I did, it was an investment. When I brewed… Hang on. I’m not even sure “brewed” is the right word. I love coffee, but I’m really not a connoisseur because I’m just flying by the seat of my pants trying to land by a cup that brings back the joy. I don’t know much phraseology, so try not to laugh too hard if I’m getting this all wrong. Anyway, when I brewed (or whatever) my first pot, it was bitter sludge–kind of weak and wholly disappointing. I was a little wrecked. I tend to overreact. I thought about my tendency to overreact. I dumped out the pot and hopped on the interwebs to read up on French pressing. I learned that my coffee grinder, which was a lovely wedding gift and still serving us well all these years later, might not be what we needed to produce coffee with our French press. I needed to achieve a coarser grind, and my grinder had just the basic fine-grind output.
So I researched grinders. The motorized ones with grind options are super pricey. I had already invested in the press and didn’t really want to drop a ton on a grinder. Then I stumbled across a hand grinder that had stellar reviews. The biggest complaint was how hard users had to work for their coffee. Working hard doesn’t phase me, so I ordered it. The price couldn’t be beat, and it was fully adjustable, so if I wanted fine coffee grounds for our big drip brewer, I would have that option, but I could also adjust it for the coarse coffee bean bits needed for the French press. It worked beautifully. And the coffee tasted better, but still not great. Back to the interwebs I went.
I learned more about how much coffee I needed to be using, and that helped a little more, but it was still only just okay. At the time we were making all of these changes, we were also avoiding–as in completely avoiding–sugar and dairy. No flavored creamers. No half-n-half. No milk. Nothing. Just coffee. Even though it was a torturous exploration, I’m glad it happened then because I doubt I would have been so successful if I had been able to even partially mask the taste of the coffee itself. It was just going to be enjoyed black, and I found I was super picky that the flavor be just so.
I brewed a pot with more beans ground coarsely, with water at the right temp, and for the correct duration. And it was good. It was really okay. Still a bit bitter, but the strength was almost satisfying. I had researched the French press and the grinder and the amount of beans and all that. What I hadn’t given much thought to was the coffee itself. We were buying higher quality beans from the grocery store. I thought that would be good enough, but I decided to branch out a little and see if changing up the coffee could land us that coveted cup of perfection we sought. Mind you, this had all been going on over about six weeks. And I think we only bought coffee out twice during that stretch. We were missing that coffee something fierce. We wanted it to work in a big, bad way. We were determined. The interwebs issued forth some local brewers, and we went and bought some freshly roasted local coffee beans.
That was what finally made all the difference. It was so delicious! Rich and flavorful and robust and yummmm. Black. No bitterness, and even if I didn’t drink the second cup (one pot from our French press fills two big mugs, but I usually only drink one a day, and he has his own coffee with caffeine…jerk), that second cup was just as delicious the next morning! For anyone who has tried to drink old coffee, you know this is not normal. We had found the process and product that worked perfectly together.
I still don’t drink creamers. I have tried a few different things because, while I appreciate my coffee black now, I also enjoy it creamier sometimes. I found a coconut milk that was good, but in the end, I most enjoy just a bit of unsweetened almond milk. I can still taste the fullness of the coffee while also enjoying that touch of creaminess. It has been well over two years since that first happy brew, and I still appreciate the effort we put into making coffee work for us every time I close my eyes and take that first morning sip. Effort is often hand-in-hand with appreciation, right? Even with little stuff. Like coffee. Also, you must love your mug because that impacts the experience in a big way.
What morning routines get you ready to roll with your day?