“I’m doing fine. Really. Just fine.” (Sips coffee)

“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.

51 Comments Add yours

  1. Photodei says:

    NGL I do love a percolator but they’re hard to find. Foolishly, I passed over an old Pyrex one at a vintage markety type place.

    I did, however, stumble on the Ninja – not even the most expensive one with the “attached frother” (because who froths, really?) – the $119-on-sale-at-Target model.

    It makes THE best coffee I have ever had. Like… the kind you get at the old school Italian restaurants on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx good.

    There’s science about it – the temperature of the water on the beans, how long it’s there, the spray thing. But who cares about science when you just want good coffee?

    Then you pour it into whatever cup makes your hands happy on that particular day. At least, that’s how I explain my cabinet full of coffee mugs to my wife.

    1. candidkay says:

      You had me at “ The kind you get at the old school Italian restaurants on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx good.” 😀 that sounds amazing! I will have to check it out. Although I must say I think I figured out how to better work my fancy coffee maker and it’s now brewing some pretty darn good stuff. I’m not sure old-school Italian restaurant good though :-). You win!

  2. A coffee cup controlled by your smartphone? Now I’ve heard of everything!

    1. candidkay says:

      Right?:) And yet, just the perfect temp even for slow coffee sippers like me . . . it’s a nice perk. (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)

  3. Perfect is definitely hard to find and I have gadgets to prove it….

    1. candidkay says:

      Right?😂 Perfectly put and in less than 15 words. You nailed it!

  4. mydangblog says:

    I’m reading this wearing track pants that I bought at a thrift shop, so I’m with you. Except for the coffee, which I’ve never developed a taste for–me, I’m trying to perfect gluten-free bread!

    1. candidkay says:

      Well, there is plenty of room to perfect gluten-free bread! I have a friend who is gluten-free and I ordered a loaf for us to split during the worst of the pandemic. I was thinking I might try it just to see if I liked it. It was one of the worst tasting things I’ve ever had😂. So if you can perfect it, patent it and get it out there! There is a local pizza joint that has a phenomenonal gluten-free crust. But hard to find!

      1. mydangblog says:

        I’ve got this great flour from Bulk Barn–it tastes amazing but I’m still toying with how to get it more fluffy:-)

  5. Kathy says:

    And a lesson many of us have to learn again and again! The joy is in the process, not the search for perfection, at least that’s what some spiritual teachers will tell us. Wishing I had another pair of sweat pants right now, lol.

    1. candidkay says:

      So true, Kathy. And if you need to borrow a pair of sweatpants, you know I’ve got plenty😉.

  6. markbialczak says:

    Perfect is elusive for sure, Kay, but comfort, oh, that is within our grasp in many colors!

    1. candidkay says:

      I agree, Mark. All of us have been finding comfort in our own ways. Thank goodness! Helping to keep us sane.

  7. Inkplume says:

    I remember the smell of percolator coffee at holiday gatherings and parties too! It smelled so good but tasted like bitter, black mud. Today I’m no connaisseur, but I’m happy with the our drip coffee maker and a really good French roast coffee bean.

    1. candidkay says:

      Exactly! I’m sure there is a way to get percolator coffee right but it’s for someone with more patience than I have. I’m glad you found a drip coffee maker and bean that you like. It just helps a body start the day out right!

  8. Miriam says:

    I love a good brew but I can’t say I’ve gone into the extensive research that you have Kristine. My favourite way is via an awesome coffee pot I inherited from my beautiful late Italian mum, the queen of coffee. But I do agree with you, there’s no such thing as perfect, but we can give it a damn good try! 😁

    1. candidkay says:

      Ooh, that makes you the princess of coffee👸🏼! And a beautiful coffee pot makes the experience all the better, I am sure. My prettiest coffee cup is a delicate thing and I love it but it can’t keep my coffee warm to save its life.

      1. Miriam says:

        Haha, that just means you have to drink your coffee quickly. And then go back for a refill! 😊

  9. Roy McCarthy says:

    Colour me bewildered by all of that Kristine. It’s a different world from mine. I’ve just had my first of the day – boil kettle, spoon instant into mug, add a sweetener and almond milk. Done. And cafes I frequent with their fancy gadgets don’t often improve on it. I’ve never been tempted to go upmarket.
    Oh and thank you for trifacta, a word I will now try to use every day 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, the word nerd in me loves it when I can be a source of a new word for someone😊! Trifecta is a good one. Instant coffee does not surprise me with you, Roy. You seem A practical, new nonsense guy who doesn’t want to waste time on a lot of whistles and bells. Nothing wrong with that!

  10. Thank you for making me laugh!! I’ve got a tea habit to rival your coffee adventure. And now that you’ve shown me the Ember I’m fighting hard to not buy one. Luckily, I like tea hot, warm, cool, and cold, so I’ll keep using my mugs. But just in the past few weeks I started using a cute little glass teapot with an infuser that’s been sitting idle for more than a few years. Perusing a few tea websites when I was Christmas shopping, I’ve been trying hard not to go down the rabbit hole of buying more things. I already have too many mugs, teapots, infuser baskets, balls, and more. I have so many boxes (and partial boxes) and tins of tea (bagged and loose, caffeinated and decaf/herbal) it’s embarrassing. I bet you wear those sweatpants well!

    1. candidkay says:

      The Ember is really great but the piece I think they’re missing is design. It does look very cool and modern. And it does it’s job really well. But there’s somethings so satisfying about a cute little glass tea pot or a mug that is shaped just the right way and fits in your hands just so. It’s like the difference between reading a book and using an e-reader. At least your obsession is a healthy one! It could be so much worse😉.

  11. Karen Lang says:

    Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight or perfect thing was ever made.
    Immanuel Kant

    A beautiful and humorous reminder to stop looking for perfection ha. It’s nowhere to be found apparently 😊🧡

    1. candidkay says:

      I was about to type that that is the perfect quote for this post but how about if I revise that and say it is a “very good“ quote😉. Seeing as we are throwing perfection out the window. Thankfully.

      1. Karen Lang says:

        Ha! Yes wonderful 👏👏

  12. nimslake says:

    Kay!
    Wonderful post! Cracking me up!
    I love my french press and also the small plugin perculator.
    Right now on a tea kick and have yes in from Russia, Poland , England… You name it. Including ginger, blackcurrant, ginger/cinnamon, orange Pekoe, Moringa etc. All in the edge to wakeup/sleep/perk up/beat depression/ …and just nother flavor since drinking one thing a long time deadens the taste buds!

    Thank you for a lovely post.
    …p.s. my sweats are maroon! And so comfy. 😉

    1. candidkay says:

      Hello there, Nims! Maroon is a very respectable color for sweatpants 👍🏻. Glad to see you’re keeping it real. As for your tea selection, I wish we could compare :-). I grew up in a family of tea drinkers in my tea drawer is always full. My current favorite is a green ginger tea. Just super refreshing in the afternoon. Glad this post gave you a laugh. Wishing you many comfy moments with your sweatpants and your cuppa!

  13. At least you get dressed, Kay. I wear my pajamas all day every day. Your coffee story cracked me up. My husband and I are “coffee snobs.” Well, not really, but we think we are. We make lattes every morning with dark roast espresso, steamed cashew milk, a dab of heavy cream, MCT oil, cinnamon, and collagen powder (one scoop). That all goes into the blender and gets super frothy, and afterward, we dust it with dark chocolate! LOL. See?! I can relate to your search for the perfect coffee. Come on over!

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh man. You just had to put that out there, didn’t you?😉😂 You know I’ll be Jonesing for that drink tomorrow morning. It sounds absolutely delicious! And nothing wrong with the pajama look. As long as we’re keeping it comfy chic!😀

      1. Ha! Comfy chic? Not. Lol.

      2. candidkay says:

        Yes. Said tongue in cheek😉

  14. Robin says:

    M and I were just discussing percolators, wondering if that might be the answer to our coffee dilemma. Fun fact: I was well into my 50’s before I started drinking coffee. I’m not sure why I started and now I’m hooked. After reading about your coffee adventures, I’m beginning to see how tea was so much easier (maybe).

    The Covid pandemic has brought on a pandemic of obsessions and searches, it seems. For me, it’s been painting and drawing. I’m going to die broke buying art supplies but the good news is that the drawing and painting and workshops have pushed me into setting aside perfection. Play, curiosity, and making all the messes I want have become part of my pandemic strategy and I hope they stay with me for the rest of my life. The pandemic, on the other hand, can shove off (sooner rather than later, I hope).

    1. candidkay says:

      I don’t think anyone would argue with you about bidding the pandemic a firm adieu. I’m not sure there are silver linings to some thing this horrendous but I do love it when I hear the people in their own personal lives were able to not only survive but also to find deeper interests and greater good in their own life. I don’t know about tea being easier. I have friends or tea connoisseur‘s who could talk your ear off about tea blooms and Matcha and all sorts of details on correct temperature in brewing techniques :-). Keep painting and drawing! At least you’re creating something. I think me taking pleasure in coffee he’s probably keeping me sane but not necessarily putting something great out there into the world. Unless it’s making a few people smile with this blog :-). Happy new year, Robin!

  15. Hi. Like you, I’m a coffee lover. I use good, dark-roast coffees. But I don’t have a fancy brewer, and I don’t follow most of the hints you read about, such as grinding one’s own beans and keeping the whole beans in the freezer. My coffee turns out excellent every morning. A key is that I use plenty of ground coffee in proportion to water, so that the brewed coffee isn’t weak.

    1. candidkay says:

      Ah yes, the proportion. My neighbor’s son is a barista and he mentioned this. I use quite a bit of coffee (like you, I’m into a good dark roast) but for some reason, can’t seem to nail the ratio. Or the grind. Or whatever:). Glad you’ve found your jam . . .

  16. I keep my coffee very strong and very simple : a small mesh filter that fits over my thermos, only one acceptable perfectly ground brand of coffee. Ditched all the other stuff. (And BTW my sweatpants are black — I live in New York City where like Henry Ford said you can have any color you want as long as its black LOL!)

    1. candidkay says:

      Trish–a gal after my own heart! My closet has a lot of black in it (another reason why these sweatpant bargains are so out of character). And you’ve already nailed the perfect coffee–look at you go:). I’ll get there. Still on that journey . . . sigh.

      1. Haha. Let’s just call it the “good enough coffee 😉

  17. Masha says:

    I’m cracking up, I can totally relate, this is the best morning laugh I’ve had in a while sweat pants and all. xoxo

    1. candidkay says:

      I hope they’re not rust colored! Glad I made you smile this morning, Masha. Happy New Year!

  18. Luanne says:

    I hear you on the pandemic. You went down the coffee hole. I went down the arty junk journal hole. Same thing really. And yes to the sweatpants. I crave wearing ugly clothes now. Or ones with holes. It’s insane.

    1. candidkay says:

      Arty junk journals, eh? Sounds like it’s not a “bad” habit per se–and the sweatpants? Well, those are just plain comfortable. Applauding you:).

      1. Luanne says:

        I’ll take a bow. hah

  19. I gave up years ago and laid out $1000 for a Jera coffee machine and I forgot how much for Henkel’s mouth-blown double-sided glass mugs. Been happy ever since. Fun post, Kristine.

    1. candidkay says:

      Well now you’ve just fed the beast, John. Wink, wink. I’m googling away . . .

      1. The mugs are amazing. Well, so’s the machine.

  20. Wow Kristine. I’m tired from simply reading about your coffee misadventures. Maybe you can be a coffee consultant for others in search of coffee nirvana? 😀

    1. candidkay says:

      I think I have to find it first myself, Brad! But does sound like a job with perks:). Sorry, couldn’t help myself!

  21. Dale says:

    I am with you 100% Kristine! Perfect is unattainable and frankly, undesirable! You are killing me with your coffee adventure, though! too funny.

    1. candidkay says:

      This is what comes from being an Enneagram Type 7, Dale—the Enthusiast😀. Makes life fun but darn is it expensive!

      1. Dale says:

        Buahahaha! I forgot what my number is. I should retake the test and see. And yes, enthusiasm is fun but can be quite expensive!

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