The Coffee Maker (#364)

I did not grow up drinking caffeine. At my dad’s house, there was only hot tea (usually Bigelows, usually herbal) on cold game nights. At my mom’s house, there was coffee every morning, made on the stove in a cheap, old fashioned percolator. That coffee smelled so good that I would occasionally try a sip, only to gag at the bitterness.

Back then, when the world was so new and all, we didn’t have fancy Peppermint Mocha Crème Brulé Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccinos to make coffee palatable. Since I was an insomniac, I never needed coffee to stay awake. Tea remained my drink of choice (except when laced with lead in misogynistic ceremonies).

Andy, my Chinese American husband, grew up with tea during dim sum, hot tea with meals (even in Hawaii!), and the devil’s brew known as foo chai when he was sick. The he went to Starbucks—I mean, Seattle for a semester of college.

By the time I met Andy, he brewed a ten cup carafe of very strong coffee every morning. He also had his own coffee and coffee maker at work.

In grad school, I worked in a restaurant. While staff wasn’t allowed to have food, we were allowed as much coffee we wanted—including milk and cream. So I’d have a tablespoon of coffee and a mug of cream while working (don’t judge, in my hungry family, we NEVER turned down free food).

By the time Andy and I moved in together, I could manage a mug of Andy’s coffee in the morning…as long half of the mug was half-and-half.

Then we had Baby D and I was up at 4:30 AM. Sometimes I needed a second serving of coffee.

Eventually, Andy started making my coffee milk and leaving it on the counter. I thought it was very nice of him, though I was constantly reminding him to use a coffee mug, rather than my favorite teacups. My friend M sent me a hand-thrown mug with a fall leaf, but Andy rarely used it. Instead, he’d pick the smallest mug available.

I finally caught on: “Hey! You’re hoarding the coffee! That’s why you tried to use my little teacups and you won’t use the big mug!”

“What? No, of course not, honey. I know you like the little mugs and you do have a little mouth and you don’t want to spill,” he protested. UNCONVINCINGLY.

“But it’s fall and I want the coffee in my big fall mug that has the rim I like!”

“But when I give you that mug you never drink it all!”

“That’s because I can’t before Baby D needs something, or the cat throws up, or a dog has to go out, or there’s a racoon in the yard, or whatever! And then my coffee gets cold and it gets a skin.”

“If you just drank coffee black, you could reheat it, like me.”

“Oh my God, I get, at most, 2 cups of coffee. That means you get eight. HOW IS EIGHT CUPS OF COFFEE NOT ENOUGH FOR YOU?!”

Andy’s coffee from Costco

Andy had no response…besides finding the darkest, bitterest roast on the planet and grinding more of it to make his coffee even stronger.

 Since we’ve been married, he’s gone through four coffee makers and five grinders. The knob of the last grinder fell off, but since the grinder still worked, my frugal husband used pliers in place of the knob.

For our anniversary this year, I printed out reviews of the best combination grinder/coffee makers—all with 12 cup coffee carafes— and put them in his birthday card. I told Andy to treat himself to his favorite. It sounds lazy, but while I’m fairly ignorant about making coffee, I’m not stupid enough to pick out coffee equipment for a coffee snob.  Also, our kitchen was being repaired after water damage and there was nowhere to actually put a coffee maker. (Andy was living on Starbucks.)

When the kitchen was finished, Andy ignored all my reviews and bought himself a new grinder and an expensive De’Longhi coffeemaker.

“It looks fancy,” I told him. “But the carafe only holds ten cups! You sure you didn’t want a twelve cup one?”

“The De’longhi only comes with a ten cup carafe. But look! It has a milk steamer. You can have cappuccinos or lattes.”

“But I wanted YOU to have the coffee maker that that would give you all the coffee you wanted. It’s not supposed to be about me!”

Andy shrugged. “It’ll be fine.”

My cappuccino with one of Andy’s mochi doughnuts.

The next morning, after a lot of noise in the kitchen, Andy presented me with a frothy cappuccino—in my big fall mug. It was deliciously mellow, not at all like his usual bitter brew.

“This is amazing! Thank you, honey.” Andy beamed, but I still felt badly that he’d gotten me a gift with his gift. “Listen, you don’t have to do this all the time. Just leave the instruction manual out and I’ll figure out how to use the frother and steam my own milk.”

Andy did not leave out the manual. When I called him at work, he said it was in his file cabinet. It was not.

I searched up videos and instructions online. The next time I got up before Andy, I frothed up my milk and added it to some coffee from the carafe.

It was bitter as all hell. Stronger than the coffee from our previous coffee maker for sure. I was still making faces when Andy hurried into the kitchen.

“This is bad, honey,” I told him. “I dunno why it doesn’t taste like your cappuccinos.”

“You used MY coffee?!” Andy looked both outraged…and guilty.

My espresso bag.

“What do you—what coffee have you been making ME?” I whipped open a cabinet. “Is there a can of instant or General Foods International Coffees in here?”

“I would never! This new coffee maker also does espressos, so I make you your own shot for your cappuccino.” He pulled down a brown bag and showed it to me.

“You mean you’ve been secretly making me different coffee? So you can have all ten cups to yourself? While I was feeling bad you got a smaller carafe in order to get the machine with the milk frother?!”

“But don’t you like the cappuccinos better than my coffee?”

“That is…not the point!” I stalked off to walk the dog. And also to complain to my Lawyer Sister about Andy’s duplicitous coffee-switching.

After she quit laughing, Lawyer Sis said, “I don’t know why you’re complaining. Your husband makes you your own special cappuccino every morning. Take the win.”

“Yes, but if I get up first, then I have to wait for my coffee.”

“Oh, boo-hoo. Other people have to pay money and drive to Starbucks for cappuccinos. My husband doesn’t even know how to make coffee. He drinks Dr. Pepper. FOR BREAKFAST.”

I shuddered and conceded.

Andy promised to show me how to make my own shot of espresso. I have yet to take him up on his offer.

Perhaps because I am also enjoying my new coffee maker.

Cappuccino holiday style!

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

23 thoughts on “The Coffee Maker (#364)”

  1. I can really relate to this… The spouse has become so much the coffee aficionado that he roasts his own beans in an old popcorn maker. Turns out, roasting coffee beans smell absolutely foul, which is why he’s banished to only roasting outside, or in the garage.

  2. Awww this is such a sweet story! Although it had a motive, it is very sweet that Andy makes you a cappuccino every morning. I would kill for that.

    Can totally relate to you on having many cups of COLD coffee after having kids. I forget what warm coffee tastes like.

    And I also shuddered at the dr. Pepper in morning comment, haha!

    1. Yes, despite his ulterior motives, it is fantastic to get a cappuccino that is very tasty every morning. Sometimes he forgets to make it, though, and then I casually say, “Oh, I guess I’ll just have some of your coffee, then–” and bam! The man is back in the kitchen pretty quickly. I might get irritated making someone a special coffee drink every morning at 5, but I think he’s enjoying being a barista.

  3. I also live with a coffee snob who makes me coffee. I get to use *one* of his grinders, so I use freshly ground beans to make him a pour-over. He has another grinder for his own use, and two coffee machines, neither of which I am allowed to touch. One is an all singing and dancing one which I could learn to use, as it doesn’t require manual dexterity, but then there’s the possibility I won’t do it right (his way), or that I’ll change the settings and not change them back *quite* right… so I have my little stove top pot which I use to make my own coffee, and he has to make me the fancy coffees when I want them. I wanted to be annoyed as I like being independent, but for now I just tease him so he feels bad.

    1. TWO coffee makers? And your own coffee pot? Not telling Andy that. Like your husband, I think Andy really doesn’t want me messing with his special machine. Even though I clean it up much better than he does.

  4. I am the coffee snob. My husband has a Mr. Coffee type thing (he hates Starbucks or anything that remotely tastes like good coffee). I finally bought myself a DeLonghi espresso machine. Between that (for emergencies) and Starbucks I can get through a day.

              1. Better than a whack on the side! For many years my husband had a back-up fridge in the basement. The handle was broker so there was a pliers to open it. Worked just fine except for the handle.

  5. I’ve lost track of the number of coffee makers I’ve owned over the years. Some have been super fancy, but the best and most durable have been the cheapest. I think Mr. Coffee makes a better product than Keurig or any of the other upscale brands!

    Having said that, I would enjoy frothed milk…

    1. If Mr. Coffee has a thermos instead of a glass carafe, it probably is more durable. Those glass carafes break very easily.

      The frothed milk is great, but I think it’s the more mellow espresso that makes the cappuccino so much better than Andy’s regular paint thinner.

  6. I used to drink more tea. And I do love tea. But once you get used to your morning coffee, it’s hard to go back. Your morning cappuccino sounds great. I’m not a coffee snob, but I am particular about what I drink with it. I love nut pods instead of cream. It’s made out of coconuts and almonds, and it’s just as thick as cream.

    My daughter gave me an Advent calendar filled with a variety of teas. And then my sister-in-law gave me a box of different kinds of tea for Christmas. But, like I said, I like my coffee now.

    1. It is hard to go back to tea after you’ve gotten used to morning coffee. It’s going to be even harder now that I’ve gotten used to my morning cappuccino. I still enjoy my loose leaf teas later in the day, though.

      I have never heard of nut pods. Washington is always on the forefront of new coffee items!

  7. My mother drank coffee all day, every day – even when we lived in a house without air conditioning in the South. Her logic was “it helps me cool off by making me sweat.” The temps in the hundreds with 90% plus humidity had nothing to do with the sweating apparently. The last several years of their lives they had two coffee makers – one for regular and one for decaf.

  8. Coffee preferences in relationships can be very complicated. I only drink good quality, fair-trade coffee made from my two-cup plunger (French press), which inevitably breaks every two years (very annoying) but that’s another story. For the first two years of our relationship, Thorsten drank the plunger coffee with me. But it turns out he really prefers the cheap instant stuff (which is way more popular here in SA than in the US). I guess I should be happy that he drinks the cheap stuff and leaves the good coffee for me, but deep down it really kind of bugs me that his taste in coffee is so bad.

    1. LOL, maybe you will eventually be grateful for his cheap taste in coffee, just like my coffee snob spouse is! There are some very cheap childhood tastes that remain my comfort food forever. I think I love Kraft mac & cheese with Hormel chili just as much as his fettuccine Alfredo. But I’m not telling him that!

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