My name is Mel and I have a problem!
I am addicted to caffeine. My addiction has developed into a very expensive habit. I love cof-fee—very good coffee.
Recently, a study showed that half the coffee drinkers in America would be satisfied with the freeze-dried varietals. This made me sad.
I guess I just identify with high-class users. I feel sorry for those poor fools who are addicted to the buzz, but don’t care about taste or freshness or color or—terroir.
My life took a very definite turn for the better when I discovered, via a recommendation from a friend, an amazing coffee roaster who lives ten minutes from my house in Bellingham.
It’s out in the boonies, and you drive down a long dirt road to a little settlement where you are greeted by a lovable yellow Lab.
Inside a small log building, on the second floor, is an amazing roasting machine that was devel-oped at nearby Camano Island.
Here, a gifted man–let’s call him Rodrigo–demonstrated to me the art and the science of coffee roasting. The beans come from the best growing regions in the World, all along the equator, spanning the globe from Central America,down to South America, over to Africa, thenAsia and back via New Guinea.
Rodrigo would pop the beans like pop corn and listen for the second crackle to know that the bean had reached it’s full potential.
I took a few bags of beans—real coffee drinkers grind their own beans every morning because freshness is paramount!
When I went through two pounds in about a week, all I had to do was call Rodrigo and leave word designating which varietal I wanted and when I would pick up the small sealed bags.
The beans are roasted to my specifications and the next morning and I pick them up any time after 1 PM. If Rodrigo isn’t around, I find my bags on a short bench with an open tin can where I deposit $15 per pound.
Rodrigo always leaves $5 bills in there for change, or even twenties, and he’s never been ripped off—ever.
The ceremony is only beginning. The next morning I wake up under a cloud, grumpy, negative, unable to put a whole sentence together.
I grind the beans, pour over heated, filtered water, and magic happens. Minutes later, I am sip-ping optimism, I am sipping personality, I am sipping articulation. The brew, with a little half and half added, is the color of Shari Belafonte and it is the nectar of the gods.
Very often, I have a song stuck in my head and I start singing it to myself. It might be something I heard on the car radio the night before, or a song that came up in a conversation and graciously I keep it to myself and sing it under my breath.
Off I go, ready to take on the d-bags and save the world and perhaps even create something wonderful .
Thankfully, I have some self control, so I only allow myself to have one big cup in the morning and one big cup in mid-afternoon. The afternoon cup is always away from home and it’s not from a chain! It’s from one of the wonderful coffee shops in Bellingham that take this process just as seriously as I do.
There is an inherent challenge in this process: how to make a great cup of coffee when you ha-ven’t had your coffee yet. The other day, I was scheduled to play golf very early in the morning. I woke up, ground the beans, flipped the switch and jumped in the shower.
I had forgotten to put the coffee pot under the cone and when I came back into the kitchen ten minutes later, I bore witness to an industrial disaster. There was a pool of hot coffee on the counter whichhad dripped into all of the open drawers below it and, of course, onto the floor.
I called my amigos,bailed on my golf game, and spent the next 15 minutes cleaning up before my wife woke up.
Each drawer had it’s own little coffee flood, but I managed to mostly make the place look pre-sentable. Luckily, coffee is a smell that I love, because there was an aromatic reminder of my little disaster for the next few hours.
You see, I have a problem. I am addicted to caffeine…
Mel Damski is the Producing-Director of the TV series “Psych” and winner of the Best General Interest Column by the Washington Newspaper Association