Drinking Bad Coffee…On Purpose

Guest post by Harrison Northey: a french press extraordinaire.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Sometimes I drink bad coffee on purpose.  I admit it.  Kind of strange to talk about this on a blog whose stated purpose is “Stopping Bad Coffee.”  But it’s the truth.  And I don’t mean the kind of “bad” like when your proportions got off so your pour-over is a little watery and you’re not sure whether to dump it out and start over.  I’m talking bought-at-Wal-Mart for $1.96/lb., ground in April 2017, vacuum sealed in a cardboard cylinder… Yeah, that kind of bad coffee.  I willingly choose to put that in my body.

But let me explain myself, lest you try me for heresy and take my grinder away to put in a safer, more loving family.

Do you remember the days when you first started drinking coffee?  Those blesséd days of opening the fridge, seeing the container there, peeling back the plastic lid, and inhaling deeply of that rich aroma?  For me, I was 16 years old and had newly discovered the delights of that quality eating establishment, Waffle House.  My friend ordered black coffee every time.

A mental crisis ensued.  He drank coffee.  BLACK coffee.  I didn’t drink coffee at all.  My Granddaddy drank black coffee.  My Granddaddy was so manly and used to be a coal miner.  Manly coal miners drink black coffee.  Therefore, my friend is manly as a coal miner.  Manlier than me.

I was left with no alternative.  My decision was made.  I must come to appreciate black coffee.

So began the next several months of drinking basic grocery store coffee (we all know the brands I’m talking about) brewed in my parents’ drip maker, black. Two cups every day; a strict discipline.  I choked down the first cup black, like a kid told to hold his nose and take his cough syrup.  My reward for finishing the first cup was that the second could be doctored with all manner of flavor-infused creamer.  That was my daily regimen.

Eventually I became like all of you good people.  I left the creamers behind.  I used a little more coffee in the filter.  Through divine providence I was introduced to coffee grinders and whole beans.  Now I sit here years later, writing this post, having just finished a finely brewed cup o’ joe, having come so far from those first days.

But every now and then, just for fun, just to be briefly thrust back in time to those first days of coffee enjoyment, just to experience the strange and mysterious power of nostalgia, I intentionally drink bad coffee.  Sometimes, nothing hits the spot better than a small Styrofoam cup of coffee I can see straight through, that came from the break room at work, that’s been on the burner for 4 hours.  It tastes awful, sure.  And for some reason, that’s exactly how I want it.


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