Morning Coffee

Toay I awoke in my usual way, wondering where the hell I was and what time it was and whether I could get out from under my heated blanket without freezing; looking forward to my first cup of coffee. I checked the phone. 7:00. Two hours until Doyle comes to work on the nav station/galley remodel. I check Facebook. Behold!! Paul Bryan over at Lat43 has posted one of his famous ‘Morning Tea’ posts! Excellent! Those are my favorite posts of his. He rambles on a bit with all the stream of consciousness thoughts that kind of move in and out of his head organically. Those posts make me laugh out loud and want to meet him and Deb in a nice anchorage sometime. This morning’s post was great.

The lovely Uig Hotel. There will be a quiz later.

I was having some good chuckles over my eggs until he started dissing on my coffee. And now I am compelled to respond. Some people are religious about religion, some people will argue about anchors or whether to solder or not to solder electrical contacts on a boat.  I can take a lot of crap, but when people start putting my coffee down, well I have to draw the line somewhere. I can no longer be politically correct about coffee choices. Here’s what he said, and I quote verbatim:

“Yes, I said I was drinking instant coffee. How low I can go?”

I almost snorted my Nescafe right there.

You’ll need a bit of history to understand what has led me to my position on this topic today, as I sit here with my steaming cup.

My history with coffee is a straight line trajectory to full blown addiction. I started drinking it for the same reasons many start smoking: To fit in. I was the new therapist on the block. I was young. I was not yet  hip to the jive of the clinic where I worked. Everyone else looked jaded and world-weary. They all knew the secret handshake. I was the young, fresh, hungry outsider. All the other therapists stood around drinking coffee during the weekly stafff meetings. What else could I do?

My choice made, I went over to the coffee urn and filled a cup with the dark, acrid, smokey liquid, added some non-food creamer and a packet of chemicals. I took my first sip. The watchful room went silent. There was a brief but profound intake of breath; a meeting of eyes.  I smiled, acted natural-ish,  and said, ‘AH! Deliciousl Nothing like a little mid-morning pick-me-up!”. Smiles, nods and exhales later, I was one of them. My career was off to a great start.

Surreptitiously, I poured the rest of the nasty stuff down the drain in the bathroom during a sneaky break. I return, empty cup in hand.  “Can I refill that cup for you, Melissa?”.  “Oh, no thanks, Bill. You know, I have to limit myself to one cup. Otherwise I can get those ADHD symptoms!”.  Smiles and nods and understanding chuckling all around. This was going to be so easy.

That afternoon, I noticed I was a little more on top of my game than usual, considering I had already seen 5 people that day. Hmm. Maybe there was something to this coffee thing.

Time moved on, as time is apt to do. I was a fair weather coffee drinker at work. Then came the second child in our lives. Mornings got to be more complex. Kids started school at two different times. They both needed to be driven to schools in way different parts of town. I look back on those days and wonder how I ever found the energy to do that five days a week. Oh, right. Mother’s little helper. Those were the days of the programmable coffee pot; ready when I stumbled out of bed to rouse the troops.

As time went on I discovered Starbucks. We live in the Pacific Northwest. Is there anyone who hasn’t discovered Starbucks? I think Starbucks is the equivalent to the old Coca Cola that had real coca to give you that special little lift. Their coffee has real caffeine. The real deal. I began to look forward to my trips to the coffee shop more than is natural.  I learned how to go into Starbucks and order coffee, which, if you haven’t ever been in a Starbucks (REALLY? WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?) is not as easy as it sounds. There are lots of words you have to know. Like the difference between a latte and a cappucino. And whether you want ‘skinny or full’, ‘whip or nowhip’. And there is the grammar of ordering as well. You need to describe your desired beverage qualities in a certain order. If you say ‘skinny nowhip mocha with one pump’ you are going to look like the rube from out of town that you probably are. It’s ‘one pump nowhip skinny mocha’, you fool. Get it right.

Then I made my first trip to Scotland to visit Claire. We were stuck in the lovely little Uig Hotel in Uig on the west coast, waiting for weather to abate to catch a ferry to the Isle of Lewis. (Note: weather on the west coast of Scotland in mid March never actually ABATES, as it were.)  Claire slept in and I wandered to  the hotel dining room for a cup of coffee and breakfast.  When I saw the size of what the Scots consider a ‘cup’ of coffee, I upgraded to an entire pot. I mean, why should I make the delightful waitress serve my table over and over, even though she offers a bottomless cup? When I can already see the bottom of the cup before drinking, it’s too small. Everything is bigger in America. Even the coffee. The waitress checked herself before she could question me about needing a full pot when I was clearly dining alone, although she did seem confused. Flinging sidelong glances my  way, she brought me my full pot and I began what was destined to be a life long love affair.

Well named, indeed.

After the second cup I gestured to the waitress. “What kind of coffee is this? It’s really delicious. I’d like to purchase some to take home.”.  She made that dismissive sound Scots make when you’ve asked a question that has an obvious answer. “Ach, it’s just Nescafe.”.  “Nescafe?”, I said, still not really understanding, and it wasn’t her heavy accent that had me confused. “Did you say Nescafe? Isn’t that instant coffee?”.  “Oh, aye.” (Or something on that order.) She was too polite to add, ‘Ye daft American. What else would it be?”

Stunned. That’s what I was. Just stunned. I poured a third cup, added a splash of cream from the sweet little cream pitcher, and a naughty pinch of real sugar. I sipped it slowly, savoring the flavor, rolling it around my tongue; feeling the ground under me give way. My world was rocking. Instant. Not brewed. I’ll never forget the revelation.

I reflected back on the time Andrew traveled to Turkey with a friend who had family there. She was instructed to bring a suitcase full of Nescafe because it was so much cheaper here. At the time, I laughed at this. Silly woman. Now who is stockpiling Nescafe? Now who has a special cabinet on the boat just for those big things of Nescafe, which, by the way, are carried by COSTCO! I mean, if Costco sells it, then many, many people buy it. So there, Mr. Lat43 with your instant coffee dissing. Take that!

I’ve been drinking Nescafe ever since. I’ll still drink whatever coffee is offered (Except Farmers. It’s awful.)  I mean, I’m not a TOTAL coffee snob. (Yes, I am.)  But at home, I’m a Nescafe convert and let me tell you my other little secret: it makes a damn fine latte-ish beverage when combined with my fabulous little milk frother, which I will use with an inverter when at anchor even if I have to turn every single other thing off to do it. Just buy this model. Don’t even bother trying to look at others. I’ve already done that and wasted money for you. And compared to the cost of a real espresso machine, or buying lattes at Starbucks, $40.00 is dirt cheap.

Be ready my Lat43 friend. Should we meet at a lovely anchorage somewhere in the future, I’ll be serving you Nescafe. Or beer.

My lovely Latte-like beverage. Pretty cup for the win.






22 thoughts on “Morning Coffee

  1. Okay, I almost want to try Nescafe….. almost, I may be confused now. I don’t know, our fresh ground French Roast, and a splash of cream makes my day. I would hate to mess with (close to) perfection. I could perhaps investigate that milk frother though. Bill has a great story about how he handed off lattes on a paddle to a charter boat that did a “pass-by” while he was out at anchor in Prince WM Sound. The Captain of the charter got big tips for that one.

    I agree, meeting Paul and Deb/Lat 43 sometime would be a hoot, but we are sort of adverse to crowds, so we don’t really have that section of the world on our radar at the moment.

    • Well I love a good french roast as well as the next coffee drinker. And real cream is positively decadent. I recently bought some UHT cream at Trader Joe’s to have aboard. The Caribbean is not on our bucket list, either, although Behan Gifford did a post on how surprised they were that there were plenty of uncrowded anchorages since people tend to run in herds like horses. We are not the ‘crowded place’ type either so unless we somehow end up going all the way around the south end of Chile and then back up, we won’t be going there.

  2. Starbucks… yuck. (sorry, each to their own)

    Don’t worry, most the places you’ll be on your boat in Mexico won’t have a Starbucks nearby, so your Nescafe will come in handy. (Actually, Mexico grows/roasts its own decent coffee… but it also has some pretty questionable stuff too.)


    • I figure that since Mexico does grow some great coffee, we’ll have good coffee there regardless. I’m not going to miss Starbucks, I don’t think. Lots of people don’t actually like Starbucks, interestingly. Their coffee does tend to be strong. Kind of like a pusher. They know how to get us hooked!

  3. I like instant coffee. I’ll have to get this brand a try. I’ve been looking at Frothers. I had a couple of handheld ones that did not work well. So I’ve been looking at the kind that you suggest. Have you ever tried frothing rice milk in it?

    • i have never tried rice milk in the frother but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. The hand held ones work for me but they give up the ghost too soon. What’s your brand of instant?

  4. Oh you crack me up. I always expected to burn someone with my salty language or weird stories but never imagined I would take heat for dissing instant .. coffee(?)

    I actually skipped Nescafe at the store for some offbeat brand because I thought Nescafe was like the Chevy of instant coffee. I was thinking it was like Sanka which I tried once. I left the jar on a shelf at work hoping it would poison my boss instead of me.
    I felt like I needed a kick in the ass these mornings in the yard. Something that tea could not provide so I looked at instant because I am too lazy to use and clean a French press and too much of a battery nazi to run the inverter. I bought a jar of Cafe Barista instant instead. It was cheap and I figured they all tasted the same anyway. Just looking at it now I see it is made in Poland. I don’t recall Poland being famous for their coffee.

    Maybe I made a mistake. I will give Nescafe a try and then let you know what I think about your instant coffee cravings. I too got hooked on coffee at work trying to fit in. Damn Auto engineers drank the strongest shit on the planet. My nickname was Buzz for many of those years.

    This jar of instant says it makes 25 cups of coffee. I only got about ten out of the last jar. Uh oh. Maybe I should measure it instead of shaking some out into a cup.

    Aren’t the Scots funny as hell?
    I could live there and laugh all the time. As long as I didn’t have to step outside into that horrid weather.
    I would love to meet all you west siders. Would be fun times. We do plan on going to Panama some day so who knows.
    A milk frother? Really?

    • Hm, I think of Nescafe more as the Toyota of instant coffee. It goes the distance without any bother. Off beat brands I do not trust, having tried one or two when the store was charging too much for Taster’s Choice. Sanka is horrible. I’ll buy instant espresso to make my favorite pork barbecue recipe, but I’m not going to drink it. If I want espresso, I’ll just get out the espresso press. I don’t know how many cups I get from a jar of the stuff. I buy the big jars at Costco. I want to know how many I need to bring so last time I filled my plastic coffee container with granules I put a date on the lid. That way I know how many I need to bring with me. Lots.
      Sure would be good to meet up but yeah, slim chance. Unless you plan to come through the canal. Or we decide to go around the horn or something crazy like that. And yeah. A milk frother. Don’t knock it! It’s bloody awesome.

    • Well, now you know! But not just any instant coffee. I’ve tried others and they suck big time. Only this one, and only the Taste’s Choice variety. I’m not saying I don’t love a good cup of brewed coffee, either. I sure do. But this is fast, easy, and yummy.. Three good things that go good together! Cheers!

  5. No coffee aboard Cream Puff. We are tea drinkers. However, I can relate as we do have a special cabinet of imported British tea. We currently have about a 2 year supply. It will be the end of the world if this ever runs out.

    I have never been inside a Starbucks. I say “inside” since I have sat in the car and stolen their Wi-Fi. I would never pay that much money for a coffee. Stupid expensive!

    When I worked in the real world, I would carry some tea bags. Did you know McDonalds will give you hot water for free?


    Mark and Cindy
    sv Cream Puff

    • Up here in dark-rain-cold land, coffee shops are even more ubiquitous than McDonalds. I haven’t been in a McDonalds in many years, though. We consider going out for coffee a treat, but the addiction of caffeine means my Starbucks stock does really well!

    • We have a really cool espresso maker on board. No electricity and made with airplane grade aluminum. I should probably do a post on that, too. We love an espresso, and that milk frother really makes all the difference. We’ll have to try the Pilon espresso if we can find it. I never say no to good coffee, regardless how it’s made.

  6. I owe you a light hearted apology. I am a coffee snob, right down to my well loved French press and grinder. My coffee sensibilities were so let down when I read your post. How could you? Instant?
    But out of curiosity (and a longing not to clean out my press) I purchased some Nescafé French roast and sat down this morning to a one on one comparison. To my surprise and delight the Nescafé was as you advertised. I spent the next hour or so playing with strength and what not. My French pressed coffee sat till it was cold and eventually ended up in the bay.
    Thank you,
    ~ Astounded in Anacortes ~

    • Apology accepted, Astounded Jonathan! I see you are a ‘dark roast’ fan. I’ll have to try the French Roast, although it’s probably too dark for me. I do love a pot of french press coffee, though, if the blend is right. If the coffee is good, I’ll drink just about anything. But welcome to the dark side!

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