This weekend I'm setting off on a series of adventures in continued pursuit of perfect coffee.
Whenever I get stuck on a plane or runway or airport, and I notice myself getting crabby (and when there's no good coffee to be had to lighten my mood), I remind myself that it used to be a lot harder to get wherever I'm going. Tomorrow I fly cross country to the great West Coast. If I get delayed at Newark airport (likely), I can just remember that such a journey used to take several months and there was a high likelihood of dying of hypothermia or starvation on the way [must.... resist... joke about... package of peanuts].
On the plane I'll be reading a Patrick O'Brien novel, the seventh in his Aubrey/Maturin series (I also brought the eighth in case I read number seven too fast). These are swashbuckling adventure books about the British navy in the Napoleonic Era. Lots of nautical terms and naval battles and old-timey talk. There was a movie a while back based on these books starring Russell Crowe, called "Master and Commander."
Humorously, the main protagonists, the bluff, courageous, affable Captain Jack Aubrey and his surly, worldly, lovelorn friend, the doctor/naturalist/spy Stephen Maturin, are both addicted to ... you guessed it, coffee!
Barely ten pages go by in any of these novels that someone isn't craving coffee, complaining about the weakness of coffee, or otherwise preparing, thinking about, or drinking coffee. Speaking of counting your blessings, author O'Brien portrays some pretty dreadful, salt-water infused, horribly weak dreck served cold. Sometimes, though, when everything is according to their perfect orders, the captain and the doctor get their preferred brew. Green beans are stored on ship, roasted up in a pan and ground and brewed right to order. Captain Aubrey is just like me: he's in the best of all possible moods when served a cup of perfect, hot, welcoming coffee.
Interesting note for coffee experts: in one novel, The Mauritius Command, the heroes spend weeks sailing about Mauritius and Ile de la Reunión. Reunion Island is of course also known as Bourbon Island, original home of the famous Bourbon varietal I am always raving about. When Aubrey and Maturin manage to get some sacks of coffee from the island in between naval battles, O'Brien shows them particularly enjoying the special rich, sweet taste of the coffee from that place. When I read that little detail, I became sold on the historical accuracy of the rest of the stuff in the books (naval battles, nautical and medical terms), about which I know nothing.
Flash forward 200 years and traveling around the world has gotten a little easier. But nothing has changed about the pleasure one derives from great coffee.
When I post to you on Monday it will be from another far-off exotic destination, that little logging outpost burg known as Seattle, Washington.