It’s 6:15 a.m., and I wander out to the kitchen. I fill the tea kettle with water. Put it on the stove. Turn on the heat. Take out the coffee pot and a filter. Put some beans in the grinder and whirr. The filter goes into the Melitta top, then the ground coffee. Wait as the water boils. Stretch up one arm, then another, bend down and touch my toes.
The steam starts to build in the kettle, and just before it releases its scream, I take it off the burner and pour some water into the filter. It drains through, and I fill the top again, five times in all. Now the coffee is ready. I pour a cup, add some milk, and put the rest in a carafe for later. Coffee cup in hand, I find a place to sit—maybe the kitchen, more likely a comfortable chair in the living room where I can read for a bit, or just sit. The day has begun.
Part of it is the coffee itself, the warming taste of a good, strong beverage. Another part is the process; this first task of the day is reliable. I know what to do and how to do it. There are variables, of course, like having to rinse the pot and carafe if it was not done the day before, or finding there are only two filters left, or opening the refrigerator to get out the milk and discovering there is none. But these are exceptions to the rule; most often it’s a simple and straightforward task.
We’ve had automatic coffeemakers in the past, and they’re OK. You can do other things while your coffee brews instead of lumbering around close to the stove. What swayed me to rely on a Melitta coffee pot, however, is the taste; slower brewing means a richer, more flavorful coffee. It’s worth the time and effort. When traveling, I take a small French press and some ground beans and make up a pot in my room, first thing. If I need to be out of the house at an early hour, I’ll get up an extra 15 minutes early to have enough time to make a cup of coffee.
The caffeine helps in the early morning hours, no doubt. And the taste: good beans are everything. But more than that, I’ve come to see that it’s the coffee-making ritual that is key. There is a grounding in this process, that before the who-knows-what of the day ahead, there are a few moments when all is in order.
From the darkness of the coffee in my cup, the light begins to shine.
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