“I’ve been handling this whole pandemic thing oh so well,” I think to myself.
But as I think this, I am wearing the most hideous rust-colored sweatpants you’ve ever seen. Purchased—you guessed it—during the pandemic. I mean, they were on SALE. CLEARANCE even. And it’s no wonder because any person with 20/20 vision functioning on all cylinders can see they are awfully ugly.
Did I mention I also got a light blue pair and a forest green pair? Lovely colors for the sky and a Christmas tree. Not so much for sweatpants.
There is no surer sign of the end of times than me—who has a penchant for pretty things—purchasing a trifecta of ugly sweatpants on sale. I mean, who is seeing me while I’m watching far more TV than my lifetime quota?
Comfort and the little things took center stage for many of us during the bleakest months of the pandemic. For instance, allow me to introduce into evidence 10—yes, 10—coffee accoutrements purchased during the past 24 months.
My morning ritual became really important during this pandemic. And I became obsessed with the perfect cup of coffee. It began with a coffee subscription to small providers all over the world. I told myself–in the beginning–that it was about a “simpler” way to make really good coffee.
Turns out that was a slippery slope.
Enter ChemEx—the vessel for the “perfect” pour over that I could never get to taste like more than coffee-flavored water. As for simple—well, the equipment is simple but the instructions on how to get a perfect pour over just right? Not so simple. Long, tedious articles (a little like this one but without the humor) have been written on the art of the pour over. The masochists among us have now just googled the topic. And down the rabbit hole they go.
I jilted that pour-over cad sooner than later. Simple was overrated. What I needed was complexity. Hello, fancy drip coffee maker that creates bubbles in a transparent tube as you brew–you’re no one-trick wonder. And yet . . . mesmerizing to watch but the coffee turned out slightly bitter. When I researched why, I realized I needed a coffee maker that would lightly spray water on the beans to wet them first. A week later, when it arrived, my morning brew was not bitter—but again it tasted like coffee water. So much for slick promises.
Back to the internet, where I learned it was likely the grind of my beans that was causing the issue. A new burr grinder later, I tried again. Still, coffee water. No matter how I ground those damn beans.
Enough with the fancy, silver-tongued (in this case, silver-toned) devils. Online coffee lover forums were filled with people extolling the virtues of the old-fashioned percolator. I was thrilled. Not only was it retro in a really fun way, I had fond memories of family parties growing up in a house permeated with the smell of percolated coffee. It would be a happy jaunt down memory lane, a welcome addition to my morning coffee ritual. Perhaps, had I gone a bit farther down memory lane, I also would have recalled the taste of the coffee. Either thick black sludge or—you guessed it—coffee water.
Oh people, I could go on. Really. The stovetop percolator. The Keurig. The French presses (because small and large, of course). Both of these were actually fairly decent performers. But not perfect. And then I read that some of the health benefits of coffee are reduced with a French press. I’ve since read that other health benefits are increased. Maybe it’s time to pull old Antoinette (as I call my French press) out and dust her off. Except I just replaced my old Nespresso machine. Hmm.
There were certified mold-free beans. (Don’t ask—look it up. You’ll be shocked at what you might be drinking with your morning brew.) There was MCT oil to add and nut creamers to sample when I tried to give up dairy creamer.
And then, the search for the perfect mug. Let’s just say I was a frequent visitor to Etsy in my quest for a mug that was the best shape, kept the coffee warm and had the right heft in my hands. I found a couple contenders I’ve loved. But of course my son moved the needle again when he bought me an Ember mug for Christmas. It’s really hard to beat only because it keeps my coffee at the perfect temp, saving me six or so trips to the microwave to heat it in between conference calls (where it goes cold). But I still drink “unplugged” in my beautiful artisan-created mugs sometimes.
Do you want to know why? Oh, humor me, people. You know there’s a lesson or punchline in here somewhere.
It’s because I realized “perfect” just doesn’t exist, whether in coffee or people. So I try my best to happily settle for “really good” or “almost there” many days. Sometimes I do this while wearing the world’s ugliest sweatpants.
As I said, we’re dropping “perfect,” folks. It’s no damn fun. And it’s getting kind of expensive.