Dear Dirty America


Savor Your Coffee Like Raymond Chandler

April 02
21:08 2012
Los Angeles

Credit: Einar Faanes

I know a lot of you political junkies and newswire hellions consume dozens of ounces of thickly brewed coffee every day. Coffee is an alchemical process. Think of the transformations going on with water and hard roasted brown beans. Wallow in the smell that can lighten up any dingy studio apartment or office hallway.

Sometimes we should drop into those chemical vibrations and really, truly enjoy brewing and then drinking our coffee.

Raymond Chandler’s famous protagonist, private detective Philip Marlowe, savors his coffee, but he also prepares it with the focus of a yogi. His concentration is partly heightened because he has a high strung man, who may have killed his (not Marlowe’s) wife, sitting on a chair in his kitchen.

Either way, whoever you are — a mother, an editor, a teacher, a janitor, a joe schmoe — make your coffee like you’ve got a demon squatting beside your refrigerator, or lurking beneath your kitchen table. Imagine you’re preparing your best cup for Chairman Mao. If he’s disappointed, you lose your fingers.

Enjoy your goddamned coffee, and don’t forget how beautiful it is to grind your beans and trickle steaming water over their aromatic crumbles.

Writes Chandler:

I turned the hot water on and got the coffee-maker down off the shelf. I wet the rod and measured the stuff into the top and by that time the water was steaming. I filled the lower half of the dingus and set it on the flame. I set the upper part on top and gave it a twist so it would bind….

The coffee-maker was almost ready to bubble. I turned the flame low and watched the water rise. It hung a little at the bottom of the glass tube. I turned the flame up just enough to get it over the hump and then turned it low again quickly. I stirred the coffee and covered it. I set my timer for three minutes. Very methodical guy, Marlowe. Nothing must interfere with his coffee technique. Not even a gun in the hand of a desperate character (The Long Goodbye, 30-1).

Live like you’re under the gun. I don’t care if it’s your own gun or held in the shaky hand of a stranger. Make your coffee count. Make your life in those moments.

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