Saturday, January 19, 2013

More on Coffee


When I was a kid, I never liked coffee. It was just always too bitter for my delicate palate. The Air Force changed all that. Coffee is thicker than blood in the military. If you don't drink it when you enter Boot Camp, you will before you graduate from your career training. At Shaw AFB, my duty station, our section commander and squadron commander had to have their coffee for morning briefing. If it wasn't ready precisely at 7AM, God help you. We had two coffee makers: one 12-cup standard Bunn and one of those metal monsters that might have been the secret entrance to a missile silo. I'm not sure to this day. I just knew the job-controller had to start that one about 5:30 to get it ready for Captain Wright and Colonel Barron.

 You know, I always thought those canteen cups looked like something hospital patients releive themselves in. And why the heck is that guy smiling, anyway? He must have had four cups of Type Four.

At the hangar where I work, about 75% of us are veterans. So it goes to follow that we have four coffee pots, and only one of them brews decaf.

There are four types of coffee. Five if you count that frou-frou stuff with the little green logo on the side of the cup. We'll get to that later.

Type One is Mild Roast, or what we hard-core drinkers like to call "swamp water." I've seen darker brews at Tahquamenon Falls. You can read the printing on the bottom of the cup, and if you swallow real slow, you may be able to taste it before it slides on down your gullet. During spawning season, you might have to be careful a salmon doesn't come up the other way


Type Two is Medium Roast, or what we call Jailhouse Coffee. It's a little more robust that Type One. The aroma as it brews is just strong enough to get the attention of junior commissioned officers, who will then circle the coffeemaker in a threatening manner. You might not see the bottom of the cup, but a spoon inserted halfway down will still be visible. Don't worry, if you're worth your salt you haven't washed your cup in three and a half years. The flavor will leech from the sides of your cup and left to sit a couple minutes, the brew will transform into a near equivalent of:

Type Three, or Dark Roast. Vets have a good laugh at this one, especially sergeants. It might be god enough for a Captain, but any enlsted man or hangar mechanic would turn his nose up at it. It's just damned-near unpatriotic to touch it to your lips. If you do, do not tell this man:

If I need to tell you why, stick to Type One.

Type Four is Weapons-Grade coffee. Those aren't bubbles, they're eyes. You don't pour this stuff, you just kind of dump it down your gullet. Swallow quick before it gets away. The effect is achieved through a technique known only to sergeants and senior avionics technicians, and involves a process of compressing three times the normal amount of coffee in the brew basket. By the way, the sergeant above? He was white when he enlisted. How did he get that manly tan? Coffee. It's also why his chin strap is on the back of his head.

Now we come to Type Five, which warrants inclusion on the list only by virtue of the fact that the origin of the bean roughly approximates a species of organic material almost similar to, but not quite entirely unlike, a coffee bean (with a bow to Doug Adams). Seriously, what's with all that "mocha-made-my-mama-do-the-decaf" stuff? What would happen if, God Forbid, one actually just ordered "coffee" in one of those stores? Has anyone even dared to try? I just can't bring myself to pay ten bucks for a cuppa anything, either.


But dem's da beans.


  1. Great post. But I can never read about coffee without thinking of my all-time favorite coffee cartoon:

  2. Love your description. Great post. I have a Keurig because I can't be trusted with beans, before or after.

  3. And I never even addressed Kopi Luac. That's another critter altogether ;-)

  4. Very good.
    Being a blonde roast person, I doubt I could have survived coffee training at boot camp.
    Cheers, Kelly

  5. That's okay, Kelly. You're a writer. Soon you will be assimilated. You'll upgrade to Type 4 before the edits are done on your next release.