Coffee pot blues

December 14, 2013

blog_judy_coolsMoonlighting. A blog by Judy Cools

Let me begin by saying that I am not a coffee drinker. Never have been. As a child, no amount of sugar or cream could tempt me to take a sip from my parents’ cups. In college, I tried over and over again to learn to like coffee because I thought I should. Each time, I got a stomach ache. I gave up.

The attraction of the brew has always been a mystery to me. Well, OK, it smells really good; I’ll grant that. But why put so much importance on something which, by its nature, is so variable in taste? It’s too strong. It’s too weak. It’s burnt. It’s cold. It’s bitter. It’s old. The complaints around me have always come more often than the accolades. My non-drinker’s perspective: why bother when it seems so hard to get a good cup of coffee?

My sensible perspective notwithstanding, my mother taught me at an early age that I needed to know how to make the stuff, because even if I didn’t like it, my eventual husband, my guests, my friends, would. And I’d better learn to make a good pot. Really?

The first rule was to start with a clean pot. Not merely rinsed, but washed. Scrubbed even. We’re talking clean. We had an old drip-system coffee pot, with two pots, a screen filter, and a ring to hold it all together. Both pots and all the miscellaneous pieces needed to be clean. Boil the water in one half, add the grounds, stir them around, then add the screen and the second pot. Then flip the whole thing upside down, over the sink to minimize the mess, and in the process, try not to scald yourself. I was told this method was the best.

Percolators came into popularity and were met with scorn by my family. “I can always tell when it’s perked coffee” accompanied by a look of personal distain. Later the Mr. Coffee-type brewers appeared just about the time we could no longer get new parts for our drip system. These were better received by the family. I’m not sure if it had to do with the coffee actually tasting better than perked coffee, or it their acceptance was related to the clearly impending obsolescence of our old system.

In any case, the clean pot rule stood. Clean the pot every time. Clean the basket. Never add to wet coffee grounds. Nothing old, nothing with coffee oils loitering on the surfaces.

So, imagine my delight when a new coffee system we bought recently started blinking with a little red light. Odd…. Why would it do that? On close inspection I found that it is an alert that the pot wants to be cleaned. That’s handy! Since I don’t drink the stuff myself, and since no one remembers to clean those coffee-makers nearly often enough, I was just delighted to have a self-monitoring function.

The first time the little red light started flashing, I cleaned the beast according to instructions, and everything was good. The light went out, the indicators went back to normal and life moved on.

Just recently, the light came back on again. I thought that alert was awfully soon, given that it’s a new-ish coffee maker. Nevertheless, I cleaned it as I did the time before, and I expected the same results. Silly me. The light still blinked. I let the cleaning solution sit a while, then I sent it through the pot a second time. The light was still blinking. Understand that it’s red. It flashes 24/7. It all but screams, day and night “CLEAN ME!” It blinks when I’m cooking. It blinks when I’m cleaning up the kitchen. It blinks when we just walk through the kitchen.

“Stupid thing” I scowl. “I already cleaned you, and you should not be blinking.” Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink.

I no longer find the warning light quaint. Actually, I don’t find it a bonus of any kind. It sort of reminds me of a mosquito in the house. I’m willing to try cleaning the coffee maker one more time, but if it doesn’t behave after that, I have a piece of electrical tape that should fix the problem just fine.

© 2013, J. Cools

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