Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How to be a coffee lover

Coffee is one of my life's passions. When I hear the word coffee my fist sized heart gets all warm and fuzzy inside. I know that sounds really weird, a fuzzy heart, but I'm speaking the truth. I'm currently trying to double the size of my heart by riding my bike more. I figure it will be helpful to have double the blood pumping capacity when I cruise along the Pacific next summer.

It may seem like I'm digressing, but I'm not, I'm just now realizing what my pacific coast bike ride has to do with coffee. I realized on Sunday morning that one of the hardest parts about my 1,853.5 mile bike ride is going to be that I'm going to have to lay off the hard stuff. I'm dreading this almost as much as the uncomfortableness of sitting on a bike seat for 40miles a day. You see, I came to this realization on Monday morning.

It was before sunrise when I left for Golden and it was pretty cold. It wasn't too long before I realized my knees where shaking. Oh yeah, I drank 2 cups of coffee this morning. Oops. Coffee dehydrates you, really bad. This is partly why you often will see me with a Nalgene bottle filled with agua. I was dehydrated and contemplated stopping at Colfax and Garrison and just taking the bus the rest of the way. I was pretty uncomfortable, and it just really bugged me to have my knees shaking like that when they were supposed to be focussed on pumping those cranks. The feeling went away and I made it to Golden anyway, but it just felt really weird for a while there.

So I'm probably going to have to either get used to not drinking coffee or convert to "Decaf" for a while. Two reasons: I don't like those shaky knees and I don't want to have to drink an extra liter of water everyday to balance the coffee. I've heard that Allegro has a good decaf. The reason I'm not looking forward to this is because decaf just doesn't taste very good. It's not strictly because of the lack of caffeine.

No need to worry about this right now. On to the interesting stuff!

My Story
I started drinking coffee when I was in 8th grade, I think. Some people were surprised that I drank it so soon, but whatever. My parents are addicts, so I figured I'd just keep up with the tradition since my older sister failed to follow in their footsteps. During high school I shifted between drinking coffee every day and drinking coffee once a week, depending on if I was playing a sport at the time. Nowadays I drink it every day, rain or shine.

Now, don't go thinking I'm a coffee snob, because I'm not. I don't know very much about coffee. I know there are different roasts and can tell you that French is a dark roast and tends to be my favorite. I know that dark roasts, contrary to popular belief, have less caffeine. Dark roasts are more bold and, in general, taste better in my opinion. I like my coffee strong with cream. No sugar unless I have a coffee-for-free stamp at the ole' coffee shop, which only occurs about twice a year. In which case, I almost always get a mocha. I still enjoy drinking coffee black, but if I have cream, I prefer using it to get rid of the bitterness. Now you know my coffee credentials.

More to Coffee than Caffeine
Many people immediately think, Caffeine, when they hear the word coffee. While this is entirely accurate, it does not embrace the reason why true coffee lovers love coffee. I do not drink coffee every day for the caffeine boost. I actually tend to drink coffee to have a more relaxing morning...key word, relaxing. The reason I am a morning person is because I enjoy drinking coffee so much. I wake up at 5:30 so I can have a good hour to relax and drink coffee along with eating and reading. On very rare occasions I will drink to stay awake in the afternoon. 99% of the time I drink coffee because it tastes amazing and helps me relax.

How to Cope with the Addiction
As I previously stated, my parents are kind of addicted to coffee, in fact my dad had some health problems because of the coffee he drank. I am fully aware of the risks of coffee addiction, but they honestly aren't enough to make me stop drinking. The worst problem I've heard of because of drinking coffee is kidney stones. Passing a good sized kidney stone for a guy is the equivalent to having a baby for a girl. Both cases are extremely painful for the person, but both cases also come with many rewards. In the case of babies, well you have a baby and they're pretty cool. Especially Hijo (the baby at my house) and Caleb (my nephew, whom I have not met yet except through Skype, so I don't have a nickname for him. Nevertheless he's a ridiculously cool kid). In the case of passing kidney stones, you have the life long benefit of enjoying coffee every single day. Raising a kid is the only thing better.

I gave up coffee for Lent twice, because I know I'm addicted. FWI, I'm not Catholic, I just think Lent is a good way to prepare for Easter, which is a very famous holiday, having nothing to do with how rabbits once knew how to lay eggs. The first time I was successful and I got a lot out of it. I should have never tried again. The second year I did it, I was dying. You always get headaches the first 3 days you go without coffee when you're an addict, but the headaches didn't go away. I hated waking up every morning and was despising life because I had no coffee. I know it's horrible that I'm so dependent on coffee, but come on, I was dying. I gave up the fast, realizing it was not helping me prepare for Easter. When I started drinking coffee again, I had more focussed, relaxed time to read my bible in the morning and life was good again.

Lesson to learn: Drink coffee and keep drinking it. It's worth the cost.

How to make coffee
Some people don't know how to make coffee. It's sad. So I'm going to give you a run-down on how to do it. You have two ingredients. Coffee beans and water.
  • Cowboy Coffee: Mix the coffee beans (grounded up) with hot water and you have cowboy coffee.
  • French Press: Here's your cue to drool. This stuff is ridiculously amazing coffee. The procedure is slightly more complicated than cowboy coffee. Mix your hot water with your coffee grounds inside a "French Press." Wait two minutes. Push the plunger down to the bottom and drink God's second favorite drink. Everyone knows that orange juice is the Nectar of God.
  • Drip Coffee: Drip coffee is the easiest because it's automated and easy to clean. Put grounds into the basket with a "Coffee Filter" in it. I recommend 1 Tbs of grounds per 8oz of water. Pour the water in the coffee maker and hit the On button. Your coffee will be ready in 10 minutes.
  • Espresso Drinks: Go to a coffee shop, preferably Higher Grounds in Golden, CO. Order a latte. Give barista money. Tip generously. Tell them Jon Banks sent you and they might just give you a trademarked Banksian Cocked Eyebrow.
  • Turkish Coffee: Put a ridiculous amount of coffee grounds, extremely finely ground, and sugar into a bowl with only a little bit of water. Stir. When you pour, make sure there are enough grounds to fill up half the cup when all the "liquid" is drank. Or just go to Ali Baba's Mediterranean Grill.
Hating on Starbucks
If you want to pretend to be a coffee snob, you have to hate Starbucks. You have to claim that their coffee is weak and doesn't taste good. You have to claim that their methods of harvesting coffee are inhumane. You must never use their lingo such as Tall, Grande or whatever else they like to use there. Don't you dare own a Starbucks mug. You must do everything you can to get all your friends to hate Starbucks.*

You now have a few tips to get started on becoming a coffee lover. I hope you get addicted.

*I don't hate Starbucks that much. Their coffee tastes fine to me and I tend not to think that big companies are the devil. Maybe Starbucks is immoral, but I've never done any research on that, so I don't know. If you care enough, send me a detailed study on why I should hate Starbucks more. I might be converted to a Starbucks hater and I'll buy the T-shirt and everything. But to be honest, extremist Starbucks Haters are extreme left wing on the Obsession Scale and Apple Obsessers are extreme right wing. Just like in politics, you don't want to be too far to either side.

Correction: My mom refuses to admit that she is an addict and since she doesn't get coffee withdrawal headaches, I suppose she truly isn't an addict.


  1. Find Jacobs Night and Day (Nacht und Tag) for a great decaf coffee with superb flavor. Other decent decafs in my opinion are Newman's Own and Doughnut House. Good luck - both with the search for a good decaf and with the big bike ride. :)

  2. Nice insight into the coffee addiction. There are many recent mornings where I miss chilling out with a cup and a good read. Lately, I have been tossing that out to have cup'o'instant and a chat with my grandma/checking my email. Coffee can actual benefit sport activites (according to a running mag), but you got to see how your body reacts. Where/when are you riding down the Pacific? I maybe in Oregon or Texas based on the season and year. And on the note of starbucks, as a former employee at the eagle river freddy's one, know that all the "barista" does is push a button. It was disappointing to not actually learn how make a good espresso.

  3. We'll probably leave from Vancouver area around May 20th-ish. We'll be hugging the coast the whole way, so sticking to highway 101 and then highway 1.

  4. Um, I thought most apple users are liberals? I mean Al Gore is on the apple board.

    oh yeah, you are addicted to coffee and Starbucks Pike Place roast is awfully bitter.

  5. Well this is the Obsession Scale, which is different. I was figuring that since they are in support of Big Business, that could be considered conservative.