Dangerous Grounds

Foods & Drinks

  • Author Tom Wallace
  • Published January 21, 2023
  • Word count 729

Where would we be if it wasn't for bad coffee? I tell you where we wouldn't be - Banff, Canada, that's where.

I've never been to Banff, but I worked with a bunch of guys from there. They made the worst coffee on the planet. They never changed the coffee grounds in the coffee pot. Never. It just piled up layer after layer like some sort of coffee ground sedimentary deposits.

I tried to change the grounds once, but it upset them so much I didn't have the heart to do it. That, and they threatened to terminate my existence if I did. Dying, I didn't mind. It was drinking their coffee that kept me up nights with dread.

The Banff formula made coffee that was black - not a deep, rich brown, but black. It tasted like what I imagine the bottom of chicken coop would taste like if you boiled it and never changed the grounds. The only good thing about the Banff brew is it woke you up in the morning. Problem was, it kept you awake for the rest of the week, too.

It is hard to imagine a stronger coffee. If you ever want to take up jogging, forget what the running experts tell you. Drink a few slugs of Banff brew and, believe me, you'll be off and running for miles in no time. You can't help yourself. Most likely, you will eventually run in the direction of a toilette. Banff brew tends to grease your innards.

I am somewhat of a bad coffee aficionado thanks to my dad's family. They lived way, way back in the hills of Kentucky. The men worked the coal mines. They needed strong coffee to get them going in the morning.

Coffee was brewed in tin coffee pots on stoves that used butane gas. There was always an open can of Maxwell House near the stove. You filled the tin coffee pot with water, scooped out a palm full of Maxwell House with your hand and dropped the grounds in the pot. There was no filter. The grounds sunk to the bottom of the pot - most of them, at least.

Sometimes my grandmother let me help make the coffee. I turned the gas knob on the front of the stove to the right until I heard the gas hissing . I touched a long kitchen match that she struck for me to the burner. There'd be a sort of Wop! sound then a circle of blue flames flared out around the metal eye of the stove. It always kind of scared me, but I always wanted to do it.

In no time the pot was gurgling and the kitchen filled with the smell of coffee. In a few minutes you had hot coffee and by "hot" I mean McDonald's lawsuit hot coffee. You had to let it cool off in your cup for a while before you drank it, unless you were my grandfather who sometimes drank scalding coffee right out of the tin coffee pot when he didn't have time to wait or he just wanted to show off.

Women could mix in sugar and milk. If you were a man, you drank your coffee black.

The first two thirds of the pot was good coffee. The closer you got to the bottom, the more grounds you had to filter through your teeth and the more bitter things got. The last cup of coffee separated the men from the boys. It was the worst tasting substance I ever drank, but it couldn't be the worst tasting coffee in the world.

That distinction has to go to a type of coffee called Kopi luwak. It is also the most expensive coffee in the world at 1,300 dollars a kilogram. I have never tried it. I can only assume it tastes like manure, because that's what it is made of. Seriously. They feed berries to a squirrel-like critter called a civit, harvest its poop and make coffee from it.

Kind of puts that Banff brew in perspective, don't it?

Coffee made from manure has to be the worst tasting coffee ever even if you change the grounds between pots. There's another thing about Kopi luwak, too. Some experts in the field say drinking it could be the cause of the next pandemic.

That's what I call really bad coffee.

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