Monday, February 22

From the Archives: "I might not be a genius but I know 8 ounces make 1 cup"

I just did something on behalf of the entire coffee-drinking world. Er, that is, the portion of it that works in this office.

I cleaned the coffeemaker.

There was a layer of grimy coffee soot coating the top part that no one sees, the part that no member of a large group will take responsibility over. Basically, the person who sees it and acknowledges it is the loser. Or winner, depending on how full/empty your glass is. Until then... NOT IT!

This weekend though, I took the liberty of scrubscrubscrubbing the netherregions of the coffeemaker and thus yielded the most beautifully tasteful pot of coffee (which I then had to drink all by myself), and it hearkened a time -- not so long ago -- when I was angst-ridden over how to even make a pot of coffee (I still don't feel like I know the answer)... a time before I realized at work you can just rip open the pre-opened package and hit the big red button that says "START".

Read on....

"I might not be a genius but I know 8 ounces make 1 cup"

Truly, I am either one of the biggest idiots this lifetime has ever known, or maybe I am The Most easily irritated person on the planet. Either way, I know this doesn't reflect well on me. But in the interest of "keeping it real" .... [deep exhale] ... here it is:

I don't know how to make a pot of coffee.

Seriously, and I am not ashamed to admit it, only because I really don't feel like I'm in the wrong here: I think that there's something terribly wrong with the Instructions for making coffee.

OK, quit laughing at me. I'm talking about the instructions that are on the side of the can of ground coffee... listen to this:

Instructions: Measure 1 level tablespoon per 6 fl. oz of

Huh? Why??? Why 6 fluid ounces of water?

A 10-cup Grind & Brew.  Not to scale, obviously.  After all, in the real world, 1 cup = 8 ounces not 6, dammmit!!!!So for every 3/4 cup of water, I should measure out one tablespoon of coffee grounds? Why 6 ounces? Why not a cup for godssakes??

I won't lie to you. On more than one occasion, I have actually taken out my fancy measuring cups and measuring spoons, along with pencil and paper and did some minor algebra to figure out how much water to pour in and how many level tablespoons of coffee I'd need to get going on a Saturday morning.

This comic insanity has gone on for years. Thank goodness overnight guests have either been non-coffee drinkers or have had the sense to leave before I'd whip out the measuring cups.

And don't even think I haven't ever bothered to ask for help.
Here are how some of those conversations have gone:

I started with my folks.

DAD: ... so you fill the carafe up to here.
TONI RYAN: Pop, I don't need to make a whole pot of coffee. Just like 3 or 4 cups.
(a beat)
DAD: Oh... well... I don't know. Go ask your mother.

YOUR MOTHER: It depends.
TR: On what?
MOM: If you like your coffee strong or not.
TR: Ok, let's pretend I like it regular.
MOM: Oh, then a half a teaspoon per cup of water.
TR: HALF a TEASPOON?? Don't you mean a tablespoon?
MOM: Oh, you don't mean instant coffee?

Colleague Lydia is always buttoned up and always has an intelligent answer to everything.

LYDIA: Oh, that's easy. You just take like half a scoop for every cup of water.
TR: Like a cup cup? Or this 6 ounce cup?
LYDIA: Huh? You know, like a cup.
TR: And what do you mean a scoop?
LYDIA: You don't have a scoop???

Colleague Wade is an avid coffee drinker. I am convinced if he bled it would smell like a fantastic Arabica dark roast.

WADE: ... are you kidding me?
TR: No, I'm not. Will you just frigging tell me how to do it?
WADE: Well, you just tear open a package. They're pre-measured, you moron.
TR: Not here in the office, jerkface. I mean at home.
WADE: Oh, well you fill the pot up to the top, and then you put three full scoops of coffee in the filter.
TR: [exasperated sigh] I don't need a whole pot.
WADE: Then I can't help you.
TR: Well, wait. What is this scoop? Do you mean, like a tablespoon?
WADE: I don't know how much it is. It's a scoop.
TR: I don't know that unit of measurement.

My pal Christine is the quintessential practical homemaker. She is like Donna Reed. Sorta.

CHRISTINE: Like brewed coffee? What don't you understand?
TR: Aren't there eight ounces in a cup?
TR: So, why should I measure one tablespoon of coffee for every six ounces of water?
CHRISTINE: Oh sweetheart, it's a piece of cake. For every cup...
TR: A six ounce cup?
CHRISTINE: No, just go by the tickmarks on the pot...
TR: [sigh] Ok. So for every cup... going by the marks on the coffeepot....?
CHRISTINE: Yes, for every cup, just measure one scoop of coffee.
TR: OK WAIT ONE SECOND. What the hell is this scoop thing?
CHRISTINE: It comes with the coffee.
TR: Mine doesn't come with a scoop.
CHRISTINE: It doesn't? Oh, well.... (a beat). You need the scoop.


This past weekend, something exciting happened. I came across an old set of measuring spoons, and one of them looked very similar to Christine's legendary Scoop. It says "1/8" on the side. Is it 1/8 a cup? Teaspoon? Tablespoon? Gallon? Heck if I know. However, I attempted to make coffee pretending like this was THE scoop everyone else on the planet seems to have. And for every two tickmarks of water on the side of the pot, I used one level "1/8"-spoon full of coffee.

And guess what. It worked. And it tasted good.

I don't care how it happened, but it worked. And so the hell what that I got there by accident, the coffee didn't taste like complete sh-t and that's all that matters.

So there you go. What my high school diploma to a Blue Ribbon school, a college degree, and the Most Intelligent Award from first grade did not prepare me for... how to make a freaking half pot of brewed coffee.

You'd think I'd found a cure for cancer or something.

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