Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Coffee, I smell coffee

You don't have to be around me for long to learn that I love my coffee. I don't mind if it is instant or filter, but it has to be good coffee - none of those "International Ghost" pot scrapings for me! I frequently refer to it as "the elixir of life" and claim not to be human until I've had two cups in the morning (not strictly true, my work blend is half decaf).

I am not a coffee snob. The only reason I have a cafetiere at work is because their instant coffee tastes truly disgusting. At home, we drink own-brand, freeze-dried instant coffee most of the time, keeping the freshly-ground filter coffee to savour on the weekends. Our coffee beans are French, but only because Carefour's own brand beans are cheapest around. (Three kilos for less than €10 almost justifies the travel costs to Calais.)

Several years ago, I was lucky enough to go coffee-tasting for work. At the time, I worked for a cosmetic surgery clinic and we were tasked with finding a cheaper source of supply for tea and coffee. Maureen and I thought it was a good excuse so we went to the Monmouth Street Coffee House for a session in their tasting room. I learnt about the different roasts and how they affect the flavour; the different tastes which come from the various varieties of beans and how that taste changes depending on the roast; why coffee should be stored in the fridge or freezer; why it goes "off" fifteen minutes after brewing; that water decaffeination should be the process of choice when you are buying decaffeinated beans; etc, etc. (If you are ever in London, find the time for a visit. It's well worth it.*)

All of this is a long preamble to explain what kept waking me up on Saturday morning. We had friends staying over; I went to bed around midnight, DH came to bed some time after 3. I woke up at 4.30am, smelling coffee. My first thought was that DH had ground the coffee for the morning and the smell was drifting up the stairs.

The next time I woke up, I thought "That coffee smells strong, someone must have switched on the pot". I looked at the clock, discovered it was 5.30am (so highly unlikely), and went back to sleep before I could puzzle that one out. The coffee smell kept getting stronger. And kept waking me up! Somewhere in my sleep befuddled brain, I discounted the coffee pot theory and decided that DH must have got ground coffee on his hands. But I couldn't smell coffee on him. I puzzled this one for a while, drifting in and out of sleep.

When I finally woke up properly, the coffee smell had dissipated. In the kitchen, I discovered that DH hadn't ground any coffee. More puzzlement. Looking out the window, I saw that it had rained earlier. Slowly, very slowly the penny dropped. D'oh!

Mental head-slap time! We live 3 miles from an instant coffee factory. Normally, you can't smell it here, but when it's about to rain you can. The one thing that hadn't occurred to my sleep befuddled brain was that I was smelling the coffee company! It must have been quite a storm, because the smell was the strongest I have ever smelt.

- Pam (Coffee? You called?)

* If you are into tea, then Fortnum & Masons is the best place to go to taste a wide variety of teas. Their Afternoon Teas are good, too.


Lydee said...

wow! that's crazy! i've never heard of that happening before.

MrSnarkyPants said...

I have never acquired the taste for coffee.

The smell of it, on the other hand, is wonderful.

PipneyJane said...

Hi Lydee

I'm assuming you mean the smell from the coffee company - it's something to do with the atmospherics and the prevailing winds.

(I had a manager once who'd grown up two streets away from us and gone to the school opposite - when I told him where we were buying a house, he said "You'll always know when it's about to rain. You can smell coffee." He's never been wrong yet.)

- Pam