I wrote this little short story back in 2010 while I was still married. The situations in this story are all true. Enjoy the laughs. Let me know what you thought of it in the comments. Thank you.
“Three Coffee Pots”
By: Tara B. Dobbs
Coffee can be drunk in many ways. This smooth hot or chilled liquid can be drunk at any time of the day or night. It only takes seconds to prepare into the machine, and takes minutes to create through the machine. What kind of machine you buy from a store, given by a friend, or find at a thrift store can make a different in the taste of that first cup you pour out of the pot. It’s not just how the beans are roasted that makes the difference, it’s the machine that really makes or breaks that first cup in the morning. Here I shall give an in depth comparison between three totally different machines. The very lives these machines lived and some that are still living.
The first one, a very unlikely candidate for any bachelor living in an apartment, was a 32 cup restaurant coffee dispenser. My boyfriend, now husband, had been living in the same apartment in Everett, Washington since 1996 after being honorably discharged from the Army after the Gulf War. He would tell me stories of the ‘Army coffee’ he consumed then. How black and very, very strong it was.
Joking that, “There’s Army coffee and maintenance coffee. Army coffee are these little single serving packets in a soldier’s MREs. Pour twenty of these into one cup, you’ll be awake all day, but you’ll crap your pants. Then there’s maintenance coffee or gentleman’s coffee. You can degrease parts with it and strip rust right off of steal.” I shuddered to think of such horrors if they were ever true.
When I moved into the apartment in the Spring of 2003, I met the coffee machine. There it was, sitting proudly on the mantel corner of the fireplace. It’s shining, tall cylindrical body but slightly dulled silvery appearance, with a black top and black four legged base gave a looming presence. He had told me stories of how he came across this machine and I could only imagine the stories it could tell if it could talk.
“I bought it at a restaurant supply store that two friends introduced me to when I first moved here,” he said proudly as he unplugged it at the base taking it off the mantel and carrying it to the kitchen. Opening a can of Foldgers coffee, he proceeded to make a whole pot full – a 32 cup maker full. “I bought the machine, a three pound chocolate bar, and a five pound can of coffee. I had no furniture, but I at least had a coffee maker.”
“You drink out of this?” I asked, turning my nose up at it.
“Yeah. I make it on Monday morning before work and drink out of it all week. It saves me time and money this way,” he replied as I nearly lost my cookies.
“I’m so glad I don’t like coffee,” I added as I walked out of the kitchen.
As time passed, I watched in horror as he would do the same thing every week. Make a machine full for a whole week. Making the coffee from this machine for more than three people at a party or basic gathering is a logical idea, but for one man alone? No way.
One day, in late 2003, he headed off to his parent’s for the weekend to help around their house. It was late and I was bored. Casually I walked up to the mantel and glared at the tall; silvery beast. Unplugged it from it’s base and carried it to the kitchen saying, “You’re mine! Finally I get to see how dirty you really are.” I had only seen him once clean the machine out and this was my chance to clean it myself.
The water ran in the sink taking longer than usual to heat up. I opened the top, poured out the contents and looked inside. To my astonishment I didn’t see a ‘clean’ basin, as he had claimed was clean. Looking with the kitchen light there were crusted burnt coffee grounds and coffee liquid at the base and around the sides. Filling the basin with hot water and loads of Dawn dish soap, I let it soak for a few hours. I could remember the elbow grease it took me to wash it. It was a serious workout to say the least. After an hour of scrubbing, the inside and outside of the basin shone brightly like new chrome on a classic car.
Once he came home I made the 32 cup amount for him.
“What did you do to my coffee maker?” he asked, seeing how clean and shinny it now was. “You cleaned the taste right out of it!” Of course he was joking. If he wasn’t, that may explain his upset stomach he sometimes got from drinking from such a dirty machine.
All was well for many years. He still used it as usual making the full 32 pot. Until one day, in mid 2005, I started to protest to him that he should get a new coffee maker. I loathed that monstrosity. Drinking so much coffee was unhealthy in many ways. I soon told his stepfather of the situation and urged me to get rid of it.
“It’s healthier to drink just the first cup. After that, the coffee becomes acidic and can rot the lining of your stomach over time. How can he drink so much and let it stand in the pot heated for so long?” the old man was sickened by the thought. I agreed with him completely.
For a whole week I protested to him. “You can’t drink out of that thing forever. You keep drinking coffee from it all the time even after work and from that you stay up for hours on end. I wake up in the middle of the night sensing that you’re not in bed and I find you drinking more at the your computer desk.”
One faithful day, he tried to make another pot full. After pouring the water and putting the grounds in the filter, he turned the switch. Nothing happened.
“You broke it!” he yelled. I came running from the bedroom seeing him taking it apart. “You broke it with your hate. You broke it with your hatred for this machine!”
Looking inside the mechanics of it, I saw that one of the wires had frayed and broke away. “The maker died on it’s own. I knew it was going to die soon.” I got up and danced. I was elated that it had died finally. “This means you have to buy a new coffee maker! You have no choice now!”
A few days later, we went to Starbucks down on Colby Ave. There we purchased the Starbucks Barista Aroma coffee machine. It was a little pricy, but I figured it would be worth it. The amount of coffee made was considerably less than the restaurant 32 cup machine. He could easily make two cups or just twelve cups at a time. By this time also, I grew a taste for coffee starting with Starbucks Frappachinos.
You might be asking, ‘Why not buy a more basic brand like Mr. Coffee or Black and Decker?’ My experience with those in my parents’ home is just the same as any other ‘basic’ coffee maker. Brewing the coffee and then letting it stand in the pot on a burner creates an acid that can be toxic to the stomach. The Starbucks coffee pot itself was made like a thermos, so there is no worry of burning. However, drinking from a full 12 cup pot over time isn’t good either. It’s only good at the fist cup that is poured.
Just like the 32 cup maker, my now husband, we married that very year, would still make a full pot of coffee just for himself on the weekends. It took me many, many months to get him to stop drinking a full 12 cups in one day. Again, just like the old restaurant maker, he would stay up late hours having drank the whole thing and not gone to bed. He did after much whining off, drink one cup or two cups a day. Not much else went wrong with this coffee maker until late 2009.
I had called Tulalip Casino Resort to see if they had any rooms available during the Valentine Day weekend. Sure enough, they had one room left. A room with two queen sized beds on the top floor where children were not allowed. Not only was this a spur of the moment outting, I wanted him to have a nice birthday on me. We got to the room and found a Keurig coffee maker on top of the open bar. I thought it was the cutest one cup coffee machine ever.
The first day there, I made him a cup. I did as instructed by the manual. Soon after the cup was ready. The coffee came out perfect every time. The samples on the bar even had tea and hot chocolate. I had myself a cup of Earl Gray tea the next morning. I was so impressed with the machine I knew I had to have one.
Once we came home from our little weekend, just like clock work he made a full pot of coffee with the Starbucks brand machine. As he did so, the machine started to act up. I cleaned it afterward with vinegar and hot water a few cycles through. All was great, until I saw him drinking the whole pot again to himself. I finally realized what I had to do.
With the money I had left over from grocery shopping one day in the Spring of 2010 at Fred Meyers grocery store, I picked up one of the Keurig basic models and a few of the assorted K-Cup packages. I couldn’t wait to take it home and make my first cup. If not for myself to make the first cup, at least for my husband when he came home from work. Of course I couldn’t help myself and made a cup anyway. I like having creamer in my coffee. Never black, I could never stand it black. The machine was so easy to operate, of course all coffee makers are easy to operate, but this machine at least to me was special.
After a few days of using it, at least one cup for my husband and one for myself each day, the machine stopped working. I cleaned it out like it suggested, hot water and vinegar. Still nothing. I then proceed to call the company to see what could be done. They instructed me to mail in the K-Cup part of the machine with a special number taped on it. I did so and then a few weeks later a new Keurig machine came in the mail. I turned on the new machine like normal and it worked just fine. Along with this new machine they sent an assorted collection of K-Cup coffee flavors and brands. It was fun trying out each one as no two coffees or teas are created equal.
Now, it had seemed my husband had been successfully whined off of a large amount of coffee. Starting from 32 cups, then to 12 cups, 6 cups and then 4 to 2 cups. Now he drinks one cup in the morning before work, and one cup before bed. However, if I’m deep in sleep, he’ll make a second cup and I’ll know this because the leftover grounds have been dumped into the sink. Call it, woman’s intuition. You’re probably asking, ‘what ever happened to the Starbucks machine?’ we still have it and use it for company when needing to make more than one cup.
I do, on occasion think about the large 32 cup coffee machine that graced it’s presence into my life. I can only imagine the stories it could tell of the long nights that my husband stayed awake typing at the computer. The faces of friends and family walking past it and stopping only for a moment to refill their cups with the brown ‘bean juice’ contents inside. Did the 32 cup maker have a soul? I’d like to think so. Even though I hated that my husband drank so much of the boiled brew for days on end, I did not hate the machine itself. The 32 cup restaurant coffee maker lived a long life a top the mantel of the fireplace. I will admit that I too took at least one, maybe two cups, from it in the morning just before it died, but only when I cleaned the machine myself. I believe this coffee maker had no fuss about me pouring creamer into the cup afterward. All it cared about was making my husband happy all throughout it’s life in that simple apartment.
A few months just before the coffee maker died, I drew a picture of it, depicting it shining in all it’s glory. Inked it in black with hatch markings and stippling dots. Immortalizing it forever on card stock paper for an art project exam. The simple inked art piece still lays in my portfolio folder to this day. Sometimes, just sometimes I wish the coffee maker never died. I knew the coffee maker died only doing what it loved most – brew a full pot of coffee for anyone who needed a cup at any time of day or night.