How do you like to take your coffee? Cream and sugar? Maybe you prefer agave nectar – maybe you are especially picky about the sourcing of your beans, the quality of your roast, or have meticulous requirements for the brewing process.
Or maybe plain old, unadulterated black coffee is what you desire. You’ll probably kick back with your cup in a comfy lounge chair, or place your mug aside your laptop as you type away at your favourite coffee shop, or maybe slip your fresh brew into a travel to go mug to accompany you on your way out the door.
What do all of these things have in common? They all represent the standard way of taking your coffee: the blasé, run of the mill practices that certainly get the job done, but maybe aren’t particularly interesting.
Have you ever looked at your cup of morning coffee and thought to yourself “what innovative way can I consume this beverage?” Probably not. But it is something that has come across my mind many times as a daily coffee drinker: all the little ways we can drink coffee wrong.
Some of them are complete flights of whimsical fancy, while others are hard-won lessons from making real world mistakes.
1. The Evening Pick Me Up Coffee
This is one of the most dangerous allures of a good cup of coffee. The clock reads 4:50 PM. You’ve arrived home from work, utterly exhausted, and what sounds better than a nice cup of coffee to give you the energy to actually take in a bit of relaxation time off the clock. So you waltz into your kitchen, brew up a nice steaming fresh pot, and indulge in a delicious cup of java.
Six hours later your decision to have that afternoon cup of coffee is still reverberating throughout your body: caffeine rushing around keeping you awake and pretty much guaranteeing you won’t be feeling refreshed in the morning.
Timing is everything! It is important to know your own tolerance and how caffeine will affect you. Don’t disrupt your sleep schedule just to satisfy a coffee craving.
2. Coffee Without a Handle
There is an old adage in which a Native American man inquires to a recent white European settler as to why all of his mugs have handles on them. The European explains that it allows hot beverages to be served more easily without risk of the server burning themselves. The Native American shakes his head and says sagely, “why would you want to carry something too hot to consume?”
This proverb is certainly a lesson in patience. As any coffee drinker who has made the mistake of too eagerly taking a sip from their brew and being rewarded with a nasty scald could tell you, patience is definitely a virtue for the coffee drinker. However, I have to tend to disagree with the Native American in this old tale, as drinking hot coffee without a mug with handle can often be a recipe for disaster or mishandling.
Of course, we can forgo handles altogether and still reap the benefits of distancing ourselves from potentially scalding temperatures. Insulated coffee mugs are great at not only keeping your coffee hot, but also preventing heat from leaching to the outside of the container and presenting a burn risk.
3. When Alcohol Is In The Mix
You might be familiar with the idea that a great way to get a drunk sobered up is a good cup of coffee.
Generally speaking, this is pretty much true: if you’re on the tail end of a drinking session and looking to wrap things up, having a nice hot cup of coffee can be a good way to start levelling things off.
On the other hand, drinking coffee before or during an alcohol drinking session can actually be quite dangerous. The stimulating effects of the caffeine can have something of a counteracting effect on the alcohol, making the booze not feel quite as strong as it would have without the addition of the coffee’s caffeine.
In severe situations, this inability to properly gauge how drunk someone is getting can lead to severe alcoholic intoxication.
4. A Microwaved Cup of Coffee Is No Good
Okay, so maybe this only applies to coffee sticklers, but personally I find the act of microwaving a cup of coffee as sacrilege.
In fact, if it is not freshly brewed, or kept hot in an insulated warmer, I’m almost definitely disinterested. The taste quality declines rapidly after it is brewed, and attempts at reheating the coffee once it is brewed often are met with sub-par results.
You can experience this first hand just from trying to reheat some coffee with the warming element on your coffee maker.
But the real offender is the microwave. I’m far from qualified to discuss the chemistry behind the process, but my taste buds can definitely attest to the fact that after getting the microwave treatment, a cup of coffee is no longer the same. Whatever the change is, it is irreparably altered, and the only remedy is a fresh pot!
5. Coffee Without a Proper To Go Cup
So you’re setting off for whatever the day may bring, and grab a cup of coffee to go. But you don’t have a to go cup with a lid, but eh, screw it – you just toss it into a normal mug and hop into the car. What you don’t realise is you have just created a recipe for disaster.
Maybe the coffee isn’t even that hot, so when it jostles out onto your lap or hands, it doesn’t scald, just stings a little. But still, when that lukewarm cup finds its way onto the floor boards of your car, or onto your nice suit pants, you’ll be in a world of regret.
In a day or two, you’ll also find yourself seriously wishing you’d taken a little less cream in that cup as the stench starts to creep in.
Drinking coffee is a pretty simple task, but with anything that is so ingrained in our daily lives, human error will eventually create these little mishaps. But keep in mind these 5 ways not to drink coffee, and maybe you’ll not have to make it through the school of hard knocks.