What Coffee has to do with it.

By Jeff Hite

I am a coffee drinker. While I don’t spend my time at Starbucks or any of the other coffee houses, I do enjoy a good cup of coffee. In fact, I have made it kind of a hobby of mine to figure out how to make the best cup of coffee.


I am far from an expert,as I said this is a hobby, my budget is very limited and I am really in it only for myself. In this case literally because I am the only one in my house that drinks coffee on a regular basis. I figure giving it to the kids at this point is probably a bad idea.


Having said all of that, there are some truths that I have discovered over the years. First, there is a medium grade of bean that is pretty much perfect for making coffee. It is neither too expensive, and not well um the “crystals” but rather somewhere in the middle.


The second truth is related to the first in that, there are a number of good brands in that middle ground there that are pretty good and I am not too picky about which one you pick. (if however, you are in the market of buy me a bag of coffee these two are my favorites 1 and 2.) A lot of which brand I pick has to do with where it comes from and how it is produced. I am pretty careful that it is fair trade coffee even if I have to pay at little more for it.


Third truth, whole bean is best. There is very little reason to belabor this point. You grind the beans right before brewing and you get the best flavor.


The forth truth, has been paid for with many a bad or mediocre pots of coffee. There is optimal amount of coffee that can be brewed. For most household coffee makers this is 6 cups. And even in this optimal configuration it is that first cup of coffee (if you are the only one drinking it) that will taste best. You best option is to get three people (most coffee cups hold two cups of coffee) that are drinking, brew a pot of coffee, pour all three cups at once, and then start brewing your second pot for your next round.


There are rules about water temperature, making sure the coffee maker is clean, about the types of bean you are looking for and when to drink it and so on and so forth, but that is beyond what I know or even want to know.


I have been writing for about the same amount of time that I have been drinking coffee. And like making coffee there are some rules about writing that I have learned. First, writing is deeply personal thing. I don’t mean that it has to be about you, but you are in there somewhere. It is your likes and dislikes, your point of view on the world, your favorite flavor of coffee that is represented to the reader.


Second, while the process of getting a story out “on paper” is very personal thing, once you release your story into the wild, you should not take what people say about it personally. Like that perfect cup of coffee, what everyone likes can vary wildly. So take critiques as just that, a critique on the story, and not you.


Third, just about anyone can write. One thing that I have learned about making coffee is that you can make a decent cup off coffee with just about any coffee maker. It is the care and attention to detail in the process that makes the difference between brown water and a good cup of coffee. The same can be said about writing a story, no matter who you are, no matter where you came from, what your background is or even what you like or dislike, chances are you can write a story. The difference between you and everyone else around you who can write stories is the amount of time that you put into it.


This is less about the number of hours you spend agonizing over word choice and phrasing, though some of that is important, it is more about figuring out works best. Like the many cups of coffee over the years I have figured out which beans taste the best to me and I have figured out what writing styles work best for me. Where I can stretch and grow, and what filters to never by again. Where I can shop for fair trade beans a good price and when is my most productive time for writing.


Forth, a bean never ground is a story never shared. Even if you keep your coffee beans in a vacuum sealed container where they could theoretically stay forever, if you never open the bag, grind and brew some, you will never know what it tastes like. If you keep your ideas in your head or written out but stuffed in a drawer, you will never be able to share with others. Writing is a very personal thing, but stories are meant to be shared. Don’t worry that someone might drink the last cup, said I said in rule four of brewing you can always start the next story as soon as you pour this one out.

1 Comment

  • Chuck says:

    You should try roasting green coffee at home. It’s pretty much the only way to get truly fresh coffee. Get a stove-top Whirly Pop, some green coffee, and you’re good to go.