My Life in Coffee - Otto entry #11

altI am 46 years old and I have disliked coffee for as long as I can remember.

I grew up in a home where my parents and both my siblings were coffee addicts.
There was always a pot brewing, a discarded filter sitting somewhere, and coffee grounds seemed to have permeated every nook and cranny of our home. I disliked the smell, the feel and particularly the taste. It was so bitter it would make me shudder uncontrollably.

Everywhere I went, and turned down a cup of coffee with a  "No thanks, I don't drink the stuff"; it would be met with an incredulous "Really, who doesn't drink coffee?"

Over time, I became a dyed in the wool tea granny.

Two years ago, while my girlfriend and I were cycling Cuba, my senses were unlocked. At first I was somewhat anxious. What do you mean there is no Earl Grey! How could I start my day without some English Breakfast!?

My first cup sat well.
In fact it led to a few more.
Cuban coffee gave me wings! Forget the the Red Bull.
When I returned home to Grand Rapids, Manitoba; I made it a mission to research Cuban Coffee and find a way to make it. I wanted to stick (as close as possible) to the procedure that was passed on to me while in Cuba.
It had to be created with a stovetop machine. It had to be HOT, STRONG, SWEET, and BLACK! My first attempt was with a Bialetti 9.

Photo: My girlfriend Sonia and I were Kayaking Lake Winnepegosis and were camped on Snake Island. That was the last of our apple pancake batter and a fresh brew of java.

Those stove top coffee makers have travelled across the country and have been kayaking and camping numerous times. They have never failed to provide a tasty cup. Soon I discovered vintage machines, and became the proud owner of two ancient Vesuvianas. One a stove top unit and the other an electric model. The electric one makes a nice small cup of coffee which is perfect prior to a run or a ride! Beware of the older electric models though. Without a timer or thermal cut out, they just get hotter and hotter!

I soon found myself taking the opportunity to sample different beans and blends. I have found that I am happiest with the strongest and blackest I can get. These days I love the strong rich aroma of the roasted beans or the taste of a fresh brew.

While surfing the net one day, I found an article about the Atomic, and I was possessed. I hunted high and low. Researched the styles and different badges. Finding a good used one was next to impossible. As it turned out, persistence paid off and I now have two.
These days I love the ritual of making coffee. Grinding the beans to the right consistency for the machine I'm using, preparing the machine and setting it to cook.

The anticipation until the first sounds of a fresh brew begins erupting from the bowels of the machine is almost unbearable. The scent of a fresh brew is to die for. I have since travelled to Africa twice, and the ritual of coffee is a very real part of the culture. The thick strong oily brew is great way to start the day, and wonderful highlight throughout the day too. Every cup takes me back to places I have been, revives a memory or two, and reinforces my desire to experience more of the world. While I have come to Coffee late in life, my lust for it astounds my family and friends. I don't think I missed out during all those years of abstinence, although if I had only known then what I know now.....
Scott Sylvester lives in northern Manitoba where he works as a millwright and maintenance supervisor. A father of two, an avid triathlete and Ironman competitor. Travelling has given Scott the opportunity to see much of Canada, the U.S, Caribbean, and parts of Africa and Europe. His eyes were opened to coffee when he was forced to travel without tea. As rewarding as a new coffee experience can be, so too is discovering the beers and wines of the world. Starting the day with a local espresso, and finishing with a local beer or regional wine just can't be beat!