no way to treat a coffee

draft 9 August

There’s been an increase in conversations about avoiding the use of plasticized mugs for take away coffee.

In all the fuss, there’s one basic issue that usually gets overlooked. You should not be having take away coffee.

The first time I witnessed the practice of carrying a mug of coffee and trying to drink from it, was on a subway in Boston. I was amazed that anyone would do such a thing – walk around with a coffee – let alone try to drink from it – and to do this while swaying around in the subway carriage.

In the decades since, this habit of carrying around a coffee in a take-away cup is now common. But that does not stop me from regarding the practice as being silly – and a sign of missed opportunities of appreciating one of society’s real pleasures.

Somewhere along the way in the last few decades people have been convinced by whatever consumer forces are at work to accept that having a coffee is no longer a serious social matter. Instead the public has been convinced that the public wants what the public gets.

I argue that people would be a lot happier and possibly healthier if they were to revert to the habits of coffee drinkers of not too long ago.

Having a coffee should be a cherished reason to stop – to pull up a chair at a café and to take some time out by yourself and to read a book or just contemplate (so turn the phone off) – or even better to meet and socialize with others over cups of beautifully smelling and tasting coffee.

The act of having a good coffee should include not only the taste, it is very much an experience of seeing the coffee and being able to smell that wonderful aroma.

It is important to drink from an open mug or cup.

Which means that the container should be a very friendly ceramic cup or mug. Forget all those fine china thingys – I recommend you look around for a mug that has sufficient thickness to retain the heat of the coffee for at least ten or fifteen minutes.

I had a Michael Leunig mug for years that used to keep the heat – but several years ago I had to hunt down a replacement. They are out there but not easy to find.

Canberra is blessed with an abundance of cafes – but too many are located in not so friendly places.

I wish for more cafes that provide a friendly ambience – no noisy music (musak) – that are not alongside a noisy road–with the best ones being beside or within a parkland (such as GANG GANG in Downer) – or on a street with loads of pedestrians enjoying themselves being out and about.

If you like to have a cup of coffee at home, I strongly suggest not getting caught up with buying an expensive and complicated coffee machine – leave them to the cafes to operate.

I recommend the standard stove top coffee maker. There are easy to use and this allows selecting some great coffees from your local supermarket. Join this with an electric milk frother, and you are ready to enjoy a good coffee.

So my message is – treat coffee seriously. Please sit down with your cup of coffee. Drop the silly habit of walking around sipping on a lid as if it is a baby’s bottle.

I do encourage more people to avoid the take away plasticized cups – but I do urge you to get back into the habit of taking the time to enjoy a good cup of coffee.

I say again – walking around with a plastic cup of coffee is no way to treat of a cup of coffee.

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