Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 69

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I got dinner at a Subway run by an Ethiopian. He asked me if I was vegetarian.

“Yep,” I said.

He told me he’d tried going vegetarian but got tempted working at a deli. I told him that made sense.

We talked a little about home-cooking. He said it must be hard to not fix meat. “Where do you get your proteins?” He had his hands full with all my vegetables.

Halfway down the line, he tells me that vegetarians live longer. I think that’s a nice idea so I say it. I’ve felt better, physically, since I cut out meat. He asks if I’d considered going vegan and I say I’ve considered it but can’t pull the plug. Four obtuse triangles of pepper-jack cheese, toasted. He says I should try eating Ethiopian because it’s half meat, half vegetables, nothing else.

I left the place with a recommendation: Awaze, an Ethiopian place in Cary. I tell him I’ll try to check it out. And after the recommendation, I shook his hand, got his name. I’ll call him S, for short. S always works there. He might be the manager, or the franchisee. He’s got grey hair and square glasses. He wears steel rings. His hands don’t fit well in he small plastic gloves. He does the microwave first, then the cutter, then the toaster, then the veggies. It’s a quiet Subway, he keeps it that way. Whenever I’m there in a rainstorm, he seems at peace.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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It is the stale breath of Death on his open and vulnerable neck that immortalizes the hero, that lends a fireside story its luster.

Nega Mezlekia, The God Who Begat a Jackal: A Novel

Coffee Log, Day 121

Hi.

Coffee: Fair Trade Ethiopian Medium Dark, Harris Teeter Brand; it hits strong like a good handshake, then lingers, lingers…just let go of me, man! My stomach’s burned all day.

I ran out of coffee a couple days ago and I was at a Harris Teeter on the way to work and the only fair-trade they sold was pre-ground. I bought it. Typically, I buy whole bean but it’s worth it for the label – some peace of mind, and hopefully those words mean something.

I switched to grinding coffee two years ago after a dear friend gave me a coffee grinder. It started as a few-times-a-week thing, then a morning ritual, and as my life’s changed it’s changed with it (I grind before bed and set the percolator for the morning). It’s a good ritual. Physical. I’ve learned the feel of different roasts: light’s hard to grind, like you’re chewing acorns; dark slips oily, lubricates the gears. I love the smell that starts small then fills the room, the metal stink on my fingers rubbed off from the crank. I’m attached to the memories of every morning that my hard, circular work pays off.

I remember the afternoon you gave it to me, a new box, the white-gold December sunlight, Ryan’s plant in the picture window drooping. I ground the first pot too weak and you were worried the gift was bust.

Well, I figured out the proportions; it’s still going strong.

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“I went out the kitchen to make coffee – yards of coffee. Rich, strong, bitter, boiling hot, ruthless, depraved. The life blood of tired men.” – Raymond Chandler

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