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A creature of habit

January 11, 2012

My morning coffee ritual starts in the evening.

Before I put the children to bed, I grind the fair trade Ethiopian coffee beans in the electric grinder. (A hand grinder for the beans sits on my imaginary wish list. I imagine it would be quieter and more useful during power outages and while camping or otherwise off grid.)

I used to ride my bicycle downtown for these beans and procure a monthly quantity per trip. Now the shop is a few blocks from home and doesn’t even merit the time it would take to get the bike secured. I walk it now, and buy one bag at a time. It seems to last forever.

Before I turn in at night, I fill my electric kettle with water. If I have not already done so, I empty the contents of fine wire mesh coffee filter into the compost bucket next to my kitchen sink. The bucket is lined with a compostable paper bag, which I initially resisted on principle, but it does encourage flow in my kitchen. I rinse the filter and set it inside the filter basket.

My coffee filter basket is an ancient thing a friend gave to me in the 1980s. It’s got a dent in one side from sitting too close to the camp stove one summer. The dent prevents me from filling it completely to the top; to do so would overflow a coffee mug or tip the basket.

The basket used to sit upon a glass carafe but it was lost in a suburban dishwasher unloading incident in 2011, before the move.

First thing in the morning, I flip the kettle switch to on. Then I putter. While the water is boiling, I move some of the coffee from the grinder to the filter. I take a green potted mug from the cupboard. The mug is from a set a friend made for one of my out-of-home offices, circa 2005 or so. That particular office was my safe haven during the worst of my marriage. The mugs are green, and palpably warm.

When the kettle boils, I pour just enough water into the filter basket as to not overflow the basket. If I’ve been puttering in the dark, the basket sometimes overflows onto the counter, or the floor. I try to keep a towel in the kitchen for this purpose.

As the morning goes by, I take the mug back to the basket and add more water to the grinds until the coffee is eventually too thin to drink, the towel is too wet, and the sediment won’t rise from the bottom of the mug to the water.


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  1. There is a coffee house at Bloor Bathurst that sells hand coffee grinders … I can’t remember the name of the store but it is an independent fair trade place too 🙂

  2. I should pay more attention in coffee shops. Lee Valley Tools sells a grinding mechanism – for those who would make their own wooden boxes.

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