All I want is a proper cup of coffee

There is an old music hall song, a tongue twister, and it goes like this:

“All I want is a proper cup of coffee,
Made in a proper copper coffee pot.
You’ll think I am off my jot,
If I say I want a cup of coffee in a proper copper coffee pot.

Iron coffee pots
And tin coffee pots,
They’re no use to me,
Cos I want a cup of coffee in a proper copper coffee pot.”

It goes on but I suspect you think it has gone long enough already..but try doing it fast and you might just laugh along with those Edwardian Music Hall audiences.The sad thing is that I always do.

Maybe it is because I am a coffee addict and I have never had coffee from a copper coffee pot. In fact I don’t think I have ever even seen one but I love the obsessive tone of the song, the attention to detail that any self-respecting addict practises if he is to really enjoy his addiction.

It just has to be right.

Here, in the photos, is my coffee pot, well it is a cafetiere, and with it, my coffee mug.

Every morning I drink one mug full of well ground, strong black coffee and, if I am feeling down, bad tempered or morose, after drinking it I am as happy as Larry: satisfied, fulfilled and not needing any more until tomorrow.

I would love to meet Larry but I suspect he had his off days too.

Of course if circumstances prevent me from having that mug of liquid caffeine, then keep out of my way or, at least don’t expect me to say anything.

As you can see from the photos, coffee time is now over and the World is a better place.

I am now calmer, less horrified, shocked and incredulous at the news I heard on the radio this morning.

Starbucks – that great American institution, one of that country’s most important cultural exports, yes Starbucks, can you believe this, Starbucks have announced that they are going to start selling…wait for it……..Instant Coffee!

It is like the Salvation Army opening a pub or the Church of England holding an orgy.

Instant coffee! You know the stuff, that powder you put into a cup, pour hot water over it, drink it and then throw up.

It is the drink you have to endure at charitable events, pretending to sip it before finding somewhere to pour the dreaded and truly nauseating contents. I have killed many a potted plant this way.

OK, I accept that there is caffeine in it but then again, speaking as an addict, I would drink caffeine even if the only way of getting it was quaffing a bucket of vomit.

No coffee is coffee.

Just as wine is wine.

When have you ever substituted a bottle of meths. for a good French Burgundy?

Well, to tell the truth, someone did tempt me to drink a small amount of methylated spirit once and it wasn’t nearly as bad as you might think! Don’t make a habit of it, children, it will kill you.

So please Mr Starbuck, change your mind. Even if people think they want a cup of instant coffee, they don’t, believe me.

As an ex-cigarette smoker and a recovering nicotine addict, I may be the wrong person to consult on this. Even I can see that my disbelief over the Starbucks tragedy might be a touch over the top.

One of those anonymous Old Wives once said you should never stand between a man and his drink….they meant beer I think but coffee is much the same thing as far as I am concerned.

It is an entire life style, a ritual which somehow adds meaning to life.

Boil the kettle, put two heaped spoonfuls of ground coffee into the warmed cafetiere,when the kettle has boiled, allow it to go off the boil, listen for the last boiling sound and then pour into the cafetiere. You allow it to stand for five minutes before the great moment of release when you plunge the plunger like a detonator and pour the inky black liquid into your favourite mug, cup or bucket.

Then you get your “hit” – long awaited and well-deserved.

I have never taken heroin even though I enjoyed my morphine medication in hospital, but I have always identified with the ritual in its preparation when I have seen it at the movies.

I was like it when I smoked. It was the paraphernalia that was almost as good as the hit.

The crisp new packet, the cellophane wrapper which always came off so smoothly, the smell of tobacco, of course, and then removing the first cigarette, tapping it on the box, fumbling for the lighter, preferably petrol fueled with an aroma that was invented to mix with the heady perfume of tobacco. The flame lit…the cigarette ignited….God I miss smoking!

Don’t be tempted, children, it will kill you.

Another addiction which dominates my life is a Friday morning British radio programme called Desert Island Discs.

Every week a guest is asked to name eight recordings that he or she would take with them if they were to be stranded alone on a desert island. If you have the time, let me know what yours would be. I compile a different list all the time.

The guests are also asked what luxury they would take and, in a recent show, someone said wine, then changed his mind to coffee, then changed it back again and then sounded confused, concerned, grief-stricken.

I have had to mostly forgo alcohol since I have been on anti-seizure drugs so it was not a dilemma for me. The man choose wine and the presenter, all too readily, I thought, agreed.

What would you choose?

If you choose coffee, please don’t make it Instant.


  1. Now I have to start calling mine a cafetiere, which I greatly prefer to the American term press pot (it used to be French press, but that went the way of French fries and all else French during the Bush administration). I assume you’re like me and keep 2 or 3 replacement carafes in waiting so you’re not left high and dry when the current one smashes in a tragic 6:00 AM misunderstanding with the countertop.

    But come on Wolfie, do you really think the primary objective of Starbucks is to preserve haut coffee culture? Huge corporations get to be huge by not turning down opportunities to turn a profit. I like a latte as much as the next person but really, you might as well expect MacDonalds to restrict itself to free-range organic beef.

    And I’m sorry, but coffee and wine are essentials, not luxuries. Actually I think living on a desert island would be a luxury. With those 8 discs, which I’ll list some other time.

  2. Well you are right of course, Anatole!

    Without wishing to insult your great country, I do not really have any higher expectations for Starbucks or MacDonalds as I do for some of our own, home grown establishments.

    I do remembering worshiping at the Starbuck shrine though once, and only once. I was dumped off a coach in the middle of Edinburgh one rainy morning at about 6.00. The first shop to open was the local Starbucks and they had their coffee, not instant then for sure, already steaming and hot.

    Sad but true about the replacement French Pots – now I love that term even if it does sound like a STD.

    And, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! Coffee and wine are not luxuries without them on that desert island, all I would need would be a shallow grave.

    Those 8 discs are a problem…I love the concept but I would have to cheat, I think. There are just so many I would want to take.

    I will try to list them one day on here though.

    As for that island….I have to agree with you yet again. A total luxury! There is nothing I would like better than to hang out on a tropical, forested island doing all those things I love best.

  3. I used to smoke a long time ago and remember fondly, if a little guiltily, the ballet for lighting up.Sharing a bottle of wine with girlfriends in London bars over a few cigarettes became our habit with the alternating ‘yours-mine’ of the packets and flames.I had a particular friend who wa really expressive with her smoking, timing the puffs for maximum effect! She was so gorgeous with it. I associate her still with smoking although she hasn’t done for years either – she’s the only person who I ever thought made it look glamourous!
    I can’t stand instant coffee now, I drink it at work but nowhere else unless I really have to. I’d suffer without it.
    To me it’s like the ‘chocolate or cheese?’ question where the answer is definitely ‘cheese!’

  4. I too remember those addicted buddy moments.

    My best friend at university and I were both hooked and poor.

    There were many unspeakably sordid moments where we would do anything for a cigarette….stubs out of the gutter, out of pub ashtrays etc. Don’t shout at me, please.

    Oh and the most disgraceful was to send female friends up to strangers in the bar to beg for a cigarette, or preferably three.

    The last cigarette at night, and no money for more, moment was one I remember as a true sign of friendship.

    We would draw a line have way up the cigarette and then argue on who had the first go.

    We both wanted to be the last of course.

    Those were the days!

  5. oh, love someone dearly who used to scout for fag ends. He used to go through ash trays and scavenge to make one last roll-up too.
    I can’t say that I ever did that…..we were the typical cross legged girls tapping ciggies, blowing into the air and sipping red wine.
    There’s an awful kinship in addiction – glad we escaped.

  6. Yea, we escaped just in time I reckon – it was the most difficult thing I ever did.

    It is odd how I still look back at those addictive days with such fondness though.

    I think recovered addicts do leave a bit of themselves behind. It may be that to keep off the habit, you have to have a little bit more caution than before.

    Sometimes I wonder if I left some of my other less dangerously reckless impulses behind with my last packet of cigarettes.

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