Wednesday, September 21, 2011

916 Mr. Coffee

916  Mr. Coffee

The two most important liquids in the life of any old school journalist are coffee and booze.  In that order.  The particular form of each is a personal choice and some are choosier than others.  But there’s no doubt about the basics.

Sure there are news guys who don’t hang out in bars or down a gallon of caffeine a day. And it’s getting easier to find them.  But the old school is the old school, and it has nothing to do with age.

There’s a maxim in the business.  You find a newsroom that’s not in easy walking distance of a good saloon and you find a news room that’s churning out gibberish.  (There are critics who say ALL newsrooms churn out gibberish.  But they’re just jealous.)

At the Associated Press it was Charlie O’s.  At NBC they installed a company extension at Hurley’s on 6th Avenue to call staffers needed back at 30 Rock.  There was nothing worthy at Bloomberg when it was on tony Park Avenue and not much more at not-so-tony Lexington, and that may account for what came off those presses or into that air.

But of the two, it’s coffee that’s the more important.  The lifeblood of the news.  And some of it was bad blood, but it didn’t matter.

Now comes the era of the latte and the espresso and the K-cup.  And this is a laughing stock in the business.  That stuff’s not coffee.  It’s coffee-esque, maybe.  But it’s not coffee.  Country club yuppie nonsense.

And this brings us to what we brew first thing in the morning.  The array of coffee makers at the kitchen store or the department store is both overwhelming and confusing.   Timers, built in grinders, fancy looking machinery the operation of which requires an engineering degree.  And what comes out of most of them isn’t worth the effort.

When your old machine breaks down, and it inevitably will, you replace it with a simple Mr. Coffee with an on-off switch and no bells or whistles.  It costs under 20 bucks, there’s nothing to figure out, it cleans up easily if you’re inclined to cleaning it, which most are not.  And it makes a decent cup -- which means if you like your brew so dark you can’t see the bottom of the spoon through it, no problem.  Hint:  don’t buy the extended warranty.  Hint: stay away from the fancy name brand coffees.  There’s no real difference between Tim Horton’s in the can at 70 cents an ounce and plain old Maxwell house at 22 cents.

As for saloons?  When you start a new job, look for the joint that has only three or four beers on tap, not 25.  And if you see those little measuring stoppers on the tops of the bottles of hard stuff, walk out and find somewhere else to swill.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2011

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