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The Desk has made a lot of comments about coffee from time to time. Most of the time it is about bad coffee.
For instance, from 'A Tale of Two Dorms':
...Dale was surprised they didn't need a fork to get the stuff out of the cup. This coffee was real John Wayne-hit-the-beach-and-sang-the-old-time-songs-to-his-rifle COFFEE! "Wheaohwow." Dale said trying to get the bitterness out of his mouth.
Peggy stirred several small packets of creamer into her cup, it lightened the liquid a little, she dumped in sugar. She tasted it gently, then dumped in more sugar.
This coffee would do for double-shift longshoremen, maybe all-night truckers on the Ohio Turnpike, or maybe even red-eyed journalists covering two presidential candidates across five states in three days. But for two college freshmen who aren't veteran hard-core two fisted coffee drinkers, this caffeine and oil mix was beyond all doctoring of sugar and creamer. They finally gave up, and nibbled rolls, sipping juice...
The coffee cups forgotten on her desk, a thin layer of multi-colored scum forming on the surface...
The Media Desk has HAD that coffee, in fact, it has MADE that coffee. And drank it.
In various columns and write-ups individual cups of coffee have been referred to as 'almost a war crime', 'proof that God has a great sense of the absurd', and 'somebody brewed something that came from the other end of Juan's burro'. In his career the Desk has worked everywhere from prisons to truck stops, and one of the mainstays of them all, was the coffee.
Currently (winter 1999) this writer is becoming a fine critic of Hospital Waiting Room coffee. Sometimes that coffee is so light you put creamer in it to make it translucent so you think you're drinking something worthwhile. At other times you wonder if you didn't pour the basket of grounds into your cup by mistake.
So, sitting here at the end of the century The Desk is going to rank his all time top ten WORST cups of coffee. With some background on each if available and date. At times, names will be changed at the insistence of, well, of whoever made the coffee.
- Number 10. Homeless Shelter, Dover, Fall-1999. Client remark "I was supposed to put a filter in the basket?"
- Number 9. Cancer Society home away from home, Baltimore, 12/99. It was a pot of decaf that had been sitting since EARLY that morning, by 1800 hrs, it was ready to crawl out of the pot and make a break for it.
- Number 8. Minimum Security Prison, Delaware, Winter 1995. The pot had perked for about four hours before anybody noticed. However, coffee is something that you MUST have in order to work a full shift. It was drunk anyway. It was as black as coal tar, thick, chewy, and burnt.
- Number 7. Diner in southern New Jersey, Fall 1997. The coffee in the cup was as dark as hot tea and tasted like nothing. When questioned, the waitress looked confused and went to check it out. Somebody had put an empty pot under the brew head, and pushed the button, without putting a filter pack of new coffee in the machine. It had run that pot through an EMPTY basket. What's worse, she had served almost half the pot and nobody else had said anything.
- Number 6. Chinese Restaurant, Dover, 1986. Pot had never, repeat, NEVER been cleaned out. The Desk, scrubbed, bleached, delimed and rinsed it. Waitress did not check pot, now soaking with vinegar in it on warmer, she dumped 'the water' into reservoir and made coffee.
- Number 5. Medium Security Prison, Delaware, 1994. New thing in jail, liquid coffee starter. Nobody has any clue as to how to mix this stuff. Note, liquid coffee starter will permanently stain concrete.
- Number 4. Boy Scout Summer Camp, Illinois 1985. The coffee tasted strange that morning. Upon investigation by the Desk as Scoutmaster, the kid that had made the coffee had gotten the water out of 'that big bucket over there'. That 'big bucket' was full of live minnows for fish bait.
- Number 3. A College in Illinois. 1981. Cafeteria weekend crew forgot one very important thing, when making coffee in giant foodservice style pot; you should remove the grounds from the previous two days. Also note, after several runs, the bottom paper filter becomes incapable of containing its grounds, they in turn find their way into the cup of a groggy newspaper columnist on Sunday morning.
- Number 2. Shopping Center, Dover. 1990. New coffee place opens up, free samples. New help slightly confused. Further note, mixes for iced coffee super sweet candy type drinks should never ever be run through a machine for making regular coffee coffee.
- For the record, the worst coffee the Desk has EVER had was made at a political convention in St. Louis, well nigh on twenty years ago now. The coffee guy was saving his party money, by recycling the grounds. He would unplug the 36 cup coffee percolator before it was empty, scoop out half the grounds he had just used, put in some fresh grounds, stir it up, add water to bring pot back to full line, plug it in, and make a new pot of coffee. The kicker, he was charging a quarter a cup for this mess, and getting it.
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