Kevin’s post two days ago about his morning iced coffee got me thinking about my own coffee habits, and just how strongly I feel about them (strongly). They are thus: Five minutes before leaving in the morning, I take out my stovetop espresso maker, which is both a strangely futuristic and weirdly medieval-looking device. I didn’t realize it was an espresso maker when I bought it; I thought it made coffee. Then I started wondering why store-bought coffee tasted so weak to me. Because I was making espresso, that’s why. Who knew.
Rather, I basically make myself an Americano, which is my drink of choice anyway. Or maybe I am just making myself coffee. I still am not really sure. I do know that it tastes really good, is relatively easy, and costs me approximately 10 cents a cup, as opposed to $2. I like the stove-top espresso maker (mine is Bialetti) for a couple of reasons: it is really easy to use, really easy to clean (unlike, say, a French press, which just clings to the coffee grinds for dear life), and the size I have is perfect for making one cup of coffee each morning (as opposed to a big ol’ coffee maker, which I would feel silly using to make my single cup). There is also something particularly visceral about lighting a fire under your morning coffee and watching it bubble up. It’s almost like you’re out camping, making coffee over the fire. Which brings me to…
…the nifty, oh-so-stylish REI camping mug that is pictured at the top of this post. That is my mug, the mug that goes everywhere with me, as I don’t have a stock of paper cups and plastic lids in the house. It keeps my coffee warmer, keeps my garbage can empty, and keeps me happy. Plus, it has a carabiner! You know, just in case you ever need to clip your coffee mug to your Miu Miu purse. (It is far too heavy to actually take camping; I don’t know anyone who would clamp this baby to their Kelty.)
This mug was the product of lots of futile search on my part for a travel mug that could fit under an espresso machine. Because yes, readers, I got it in the time before I was industrious enough to make my own coffee. I used to buy it! And how foolish I was. So anyway, for some reason, coffee cup producers have not yet tapped into the fact that the typical travel mug doesn’t fit under an espresso maker. What if you’re a girl on the go and you want a cappuccino? But even now that I do make it myself, I still want a foamy, cinnamon-topped treat every once in a while. And then, I ask the barista if he or she wouldn’t mind making it in my handy-dandy mug, they compliment it, and usually I get a larger drink than I even ordered. Everyone wins! (And yes, they always compliment it.)
There was an interesting article in Slate today about the environmental impact of washing and producing stainless steel or ceramic mugs vs. the production and then waste (landfill space) of paper or Styrofoam cups. The article pointed out the many pros and cons of each, ultimately concluding that stainless steel or ceramic mugs are still not a great solution, since they require the water and energy of washing and far more energy to produce and ship to sale. You should, says the Slate Green Lantern, try to get a mug secondhand (taking an oft-unused one from the office cupboard, for example) and then either wash it with cold water or in a big, floor-wide officeplace hot-water wash.
Good advice, all, though I don’t think particularly realistic (and maybe not really meant to be). I bought my mug, new, at REI. I wash it with cold water most of the time, but only because it’s late at night or early in the morning and I’m tired and think it only needs a rinse anyway. I wash it with hot water and soap maybe twice a week. And still, I think it is a big step. I am being conscious of what I am using. I am being conscious of what is going in my trashcan. Can you imagine a world where everyone was carrying reusable mugs to work? It would be like a world where everyone was using canvas bags instead of plastic and Sigg bottles instead of Fiji. That world is upon us. Get thyself a reusable mug.