I know what it takes to keep my girlfriend from going crazy.
“I don’t go crazy,” she says.
I pause. This is a critical conversational juncture. One misspoken modifier, one unclear adjective could spell doom—or, more likely, a few days when our bedroom relations are as chilly as the North Pole.
“Hon, first thing in the morning, you need coffee. Without it, you become, well…” I trail off. Sometimes words are best unspoken, especially when they rhyme with itch.
“I like my coffee,” she says, getting defensive. Like is too weak. When ranking things she loves, I would list: me, our wonder mutt Sammy and coffee, not necessarily in the order. “I go to bed excited, because I know I can drink coffee in the morning,” she says. It’s the kind of language common to alcoholics, thirsting for that lovely a.m. bloom of warming, mood-brightening booze. Whether it’s alcohol, coffee or narcotics, that first fix is always the finest.
I know I’m the last person to judge an addiction. Sweet jelly beans, I’d need every finger and toe to count the number of times last month I awoke pants-less, head like a construction site, forced to crab across the ground in search of aspirin. But damn, my girlfriend’s a java junkie.
This has created interpersonal coffee wars to rival any minor Middle East skirmish. She usually rises before me, right after dawn cracks our bedroom window, in order to sneak in a morning run or a Sammy stroll. To fuel her active lifestyle, she requires inky java.
Solving this dilemma is simple: fill our metal French press with several fat scoops of dark-roasted Gorilla coffee or, more recently, beans from Brooklyn Heights bulk-food emporium Sahadi’s. Here, amid bins of cheap nuts and dried fruit, a pound of fine coffee—as black as beaches after the BP oil spill—runs as low as five smackers. At prices like these, anybody can become a caffeine fiend! Anybody!
Anyway, the problem is not cost. It’s quantity. Our French press only makes a bit more than two mugs of coffee. In a just world, we’d split the coffee even-steven. Half for you, half for me, makes a happy family. However, my girlfriend loves to drink from enormous vessels. Her water glass is a liter beer stein she filched from Astoria’s Bohemian Beer Garden. (“They have tons. They’ll never miss a glass,” she says, like a criminal angling for a score.)
Then there’s her coffee mug. It’s so big, several goldfish could spend an afternoon swimming around and never touch tails. Filling it requires nearly a full French press, leaving me a couple inches of grounds-strewn wake-up juice. “Just make more,” she says, her glasses merrily fogging with coffee steam. I get steamed. I could make more, but that’s not the point. It’s share and share alike. I try explaining this to her, but when you’re dealing with addicts, common sense doesn’t always make sense.
However, this inferno summer has thrown a crimp in our coffee consumption. Thanks to the mercury topping triple digits, drinking hot-brewed coffee has become a kind of torture the CIA could support. The solution is iced coffee. But I’m a cheap, cheap bastard. The thought of blowing two or three dollars a day on iced coffee is as unpleasant as a proctology exam. I started researching the most cost-effective way to craft iced coffee, stumbling across a website touting the cold-water Filtron system.
“With the Filtron, you’ll see, smell and taste a cup of coffee that’s beyond compare,” the ad copy touted. More appealing: the picture of a milk bottle–size carafe containing dark, concentrated coffee, enough to make 45 or 50 normal cups of java. I saw our coffee wars dissolving like Kool-Aid in water. I bought Filtron. I followed instructions. I made cold-brewed coffee possessing an unparalleled richness, with a smooth character and nary an iota of oily acidity. In the words of the copywriter, it was beyond compare.
I tested it out on my harshest critic, giving her a full cup mixed with sugar and milk. “How is it?” I asked, watching her slurp. She slurped some more. Then she slurped even more, draining the tan potion until only droplets remained.
“It’s perfect,” she said, smiling with beige-tinted teeth. “Can I have some more?”
“Of course,” I answered, filling her cup to the brim with black love.