As I poured my third cup of coffee this morning, I remembered an earlier time when coffee was a bit more difficult and a challenge to make. I have always used some type of drip coffee maker, a plastic device with a clock and timer built in. Yet, I think back to the days of the electric percolator and marvel at the process of an earlier time. The pot consisted of steel and chrome with a plastic resin base with a heater installed. I remember Dad and his work to create that perfect cup of coffee. Making coffee each day, it is no wonder the man had the patience of Job. There were precise steps for making coffee. The steps had a reason and they had to be followed precisely.
To make that perfect cup, be sure to disconnect the electric cord from the pot. Getting water in the wiring could short circuit and ruin the pot. That would mean no coffee for a few days until the broken pot could be replaced.
Next fill the pot with cold water up to the line that was clearly marked with water stains from the many hundreds for previously made pots of coffee. It had to be cold water. Luke warm or hot water and you might ruin the heating element.
Pour three heaping scoops of coffee from the Folgers three pound can into the coffee filter. More than three scoops made the coffee too strong, and less than three heaping scoops and you may as well be drinking dirty water—too weak.
Place the filter in the pot. This required a certain bit of dexterity and coordination. The filter was held together by a metal shaft running up through the middle of it. On the top rested a tin lid to aid the percolation process. Putting the filter in the pot meant holding this contraption together with your fingers while guiding the metal shaft down to the bottom of the percolator where it would sit snugly in a recessed circle. All the while, water would do its natural best to float and disassemble the entire filter assembly.
At last, put the lid on the pot and plug the cord first into the pot and then into the electrical outlet.
While the percolator brewed the perfect cup of coffee, Dad would sit and smoke two, maybe three, cigarettes. It is no wonder Dad smoked two packs a day. After the cigarettes, walk outside and get the morning paper. By then the wonderful smell of nirvana permeated the kitchen. The coffee was ready.
When that first pot of coffee was drained, a fresh pot was brewed (repeat steps one through six). Coffee was always present in the house. Up until ten o’clock at night the coffee pot remained hot, although not always fresh. At ten o’clock, with the beginning of the news, the pot was unplugged, drained and rinsed. The filter was rinsed and placed upside down in the dish strainer so that it would dry and ready for service in the morning.
I think back on this and appreciate Dad a little bit more. I can appreciate the pleasure he must have experienced with the purchase of his first Mr. Coffee. Even today, I appreciate the wonders of modern technology and my Mr. Coffee. Every night at ten o’clock I make my coffee. I still use three heaping scoops of coffee. Now, I use Starbucks medium blend instead of folgers. But I set the alarm on the coffee pot and go watch the news. I wake up the next morning to the smell of a glorious cup of coffee waiting for me. No patience required, just make the coffee, set the alarm and sleep through the night.