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From the Mouth of the River

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From the Mouth of the River

Caffeine is a wonderful thing

“The coffee is on, come on in.” That’s the American way when someone comes to call. The coffee is always on at our house and if the pot is getting low we’ll make a fresh pot. I don’t know about everyone else but that’s the country folks’ way. 

For me, it all started with my Dad. He made coffee long before daylight, drank a pot and made another to have for breakfast. I don’t know how many coffee pots he went through in his lifetime but it was several.   The first thing he did when buying a new pot was throw  away the innerds. “That perking thing is just a waste of time and messes up the coffee,” he used to say.

One of the reasons Dad went through so many coffee pots was he always set the pot directly over the flames by taking one of the lids off of our old wood cook stove. He first filled the pot almost full of well water, set it over the open flames and when it started to come to a rolling boil, he would put in two hands full of Folgers coffee. He always measured it out to the exact amount each time—just what he could hold in a cupped hand. I always thought this was to the extreme. But I took the measuring cup that I use to measure coffee with and heaped it full of coffee grounds, poured it in my cupped hand and it was the same amount as Dad used! Only he used two hands full.

Today I use two scoops of Folgers Coffee in my dripalator but only drink one pot per day, unless someone comes by.  Dad’s coffee was so strong that I couldn’t stand to drink it for years, even with cream and sugar.   I didn’t develop a taste for coffee until I went to Korea. 

Over the years I’ve found that the taste of coffee, like the taste of beer, depends a lot on the water it’s made from. City water is laced with chlorine and adds a distinctive taste that’s easy recognize no mater what brand of coffee you use. Well water, spring water, creek water, lake water, river water all add their touch. 

My Dad and I were camping out on a river in the Midwest one time fishing for big catfish using trotlines. We stayed up all night so we could run the lines every two hours.  Dad would go down to the river and dip up a pot of water, bring it back and by the firelight he would pick out whatever he could see floating or swimming around in there. “It’s not the germs from river water that bothers me,” he would say, “it’s the things I can see swimming in it.” Dad never washed his coffee pot; he would just rinse out the grounds once in a while. “A coffee pot is just like a beer stein,” he would say, “Never wash out the flavor.” 

He dropped it one time on the floor and some large chunks of what he called flavor broke loose from the inside and spilled out on the floor,. He stared at it for a minute and said, “Well, I guess it’s time to rinse it out and start over.” 

Dad was just one of twelve siblings in his family growing up, all of whom had chores to do. His job, he used to say, was to pick the rat turds out of the coffee beans, then grind the coffee and boil it. Dad said Grampaw’s eyes were so bad he couldn’t see to tell the difference and he didn’t want to have to taste ‘em to see if they were beans. 

Back in the old days, moms or dads would put a spoon full of cream and sugar in a half cup of coffee for the little kids to get them used to drinking coffee until they could graduate to the real thing. 

Today, some folks have figured out that if you force a small amount of hot water through a small amount of coffee grounds, you get all the caffeine out; add some cheap milk and a lot of sugar and one drop of any flavoring extract  you want and you have a hot milk shake that will give you a high that makes you talk like an auctioneer and will last about an hour before you crash and burn and don’t want be worth a damn for the rest of the day; it will, however, make your butt  pop out of your hip huggers like a wine cork out of a bottle and your thighs will look like there’s two of you in a sack race. And, there’ll be red streaks on your belly button where your steering wheel rubs. We oldtimers look at this as Wussie Coffee, coffee for little girls to grow on, girls who want to broaden their, ah, horizons and are not old enough yet to drink real coffee.  

I, personally, have cut down to only a half a pot in the morning; that’s about eight cups. Dad said he wouldn’t dirty a cup for no more coffee than that, he’d just drink outta the pot.

We all know that coffee has caffeine in it, that’s why we drink it, to sorta kick start your day. Others drink several cups until they can write like a doctor. We have a neighbor, the opera singer, who stops by our house on his walk some mornings. We give him a couple of cups of my coffee and a big piece of chocolate cake, and then we set back and watch. In a matter of minutes he is holding as many as three conversations, all with hisself. It doesn’t matter if Lovie and I are holding a conversation, he just takes off like a house cat on steroids.

Caffeine is a wonderful thing if used in moderation, or… under supervision.

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Boots Reynolds Boots Reynolds The "internationally-renowned cowboy artist" Boots Reynolds has moved his comedic interpretation of life into the writing field with his regular column in the River Journal - From the Mouth of the River.

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