a Dad coffee story

Dad’s coffee maker at his little corner shack in Redondo used to be white. It was that kind of 80’s-era plastic like old electric plug covers that turns yellow with time.
By the time he walked into the spare bedroom in his house on a sultry west LA summer day and announced to me that he thought it was time for him not to live alone anymore, that coffee maker was more corn-colored than cement-colored.

We left it behind in the packing and the moving.

I managed in my 40s to switch from soda to coffee, so I had a sturdy $60-dollar Cuisinart auto drip coffee maker at the house. (Francis, who is a foodie, has a cold brew thing with a blue nipple that he uses only on holidays; but I have the Cuisinart to coax my brain morningly into enjoying computer programming.). When dad saw the smudged silvery Cuisinart with the white inside stained recycled paper brown from the times I’ve put half a pot of coffee and some water back through the cofffee maker because it was that kind of morning, he said, “Oh, fancy!”

I do own a couple of fancy things – my computer, that one nice piece of art, a set of hue lights that make the house pleasant by themselves. That 5 year old stained coffee pot wasn’t one of them. But it had one of those gold screen baskets that sits inside the drip area so you don’t have to use paper screens every day – and it’s dishwashable (important when you buy, and I honestly can’t remember if I ever put it in the dishwasher), convenient.

Even if you’re a rocket scientist, there are limits on the adoption of new technologies. This, apparently, was one of dad’s Kryptonites.

Half the time he would make the coffee, he wouldn’t just grab the gold wire screen, he’d also grab the hard plastic cup/funnel that leads to the coffee pot and yank that out. He dutifully clean it (yay, we didn’t all die of some new coffee-loving extremophile fungus!), but putting it back – well, there were little directions written on it and little bumps to align to other little bumps on the coffee pot, but sans glasses, that was never gonna happen. So he put it back in wrong.

And also, I mean, I love strong coffee, but occasionally dad thought that filling the gold wire basket was the goal of it. Those mornings were VERY AWAKE MORNINGS!

So the grounds would escape the basket either by expansion or by the water backing up because some grounds had already escaped.

Then: the coffee pot sludge. If you’ve never blearily filled your cup and failed to notice the grounds swirling in it and then taken a good swig, well, you’re missing out. Okay, you’re not but it is quite an experience.

Francis or I would notice what had happened at some point, disassemble the Cuisinart, wash it, put it all back together.


So eventually (because COVID, there’s no more shopping in big box stores!), I trolled Amazon for a coffee maker that somehow would not have these problems.

If you haven’t ever looked at coffee makers, you can easily drop a grand on something that basically just makes coffee.

I found one for like $200 that had a separate water thing and a separate pull-out basket for grounds, and a thermal carafe – because that last burned 1/4″ be nasty, and we might as well solve 2 problems in one!

The new coffee pot got several repeated intonements of “Fancy!” from dad – even as he secretly ordered Folgers from Amazon to put in it because the Hawaiian coffee Francis got from the BX was “too.. fancy? something…”. 🙂

In the morning, every morning, like this morning, I wander into the kitchen, feed the new puppy that dad never got to meet and I corner up in front of the coffee maker, and remember that he is gone.

I stand there for a minute, then.

And sometimes, I finally say out loud to no one else in the room, “Fancy!”

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