There is a great line in an episode of "Are You Being Served?" on PBS. Mr. Harman, the all-purpose utility man, serves Mr. Rumbold his morning coffee. Because of the latest economic downturn there has been a cutback to the use of instant coffee. "So called," Mr. Harman informs us, "because there is only one precise instant in which it actually tastes like coffee."
The truth is that if it is black, hot, and doesn't smell of tea; most Americans will drink anything labeled coffee.
Part of most of my days is still spent at our son's business, Computer Central. My only (self-appointed) duty is making coffee (we've tried Nathan's attempts). Over the years we've used different brands and blends, measurements and methodologies. Somehow it is never quite up to the stuff you get from professional coffee.
After church Sunday Kay suggested we go to Taco Bell. I have nothing against Mexican food (they say that's what it is), but they don't offer coffee. We compromised on Wendy's. Wendy's has decent coffee, but this time it came with one of those packaged dry creamers. If you're going to compare drinks, it's best to use the real stuff (i.e., imitation cream).
Comparing local coffee has become something of a "thing" with me.
We occasionally patronize Brazil Coffee Company when everybody is tired of my culinary attempts. A friend once offered to buy one of the Coffee Company's specialties. My heart, which does not suffer surprises gladly, exploded. I stick with regular.
Except the most recent, I've tried the coffee at almost all of the reincarnations of what used to be the Blue Bonnet restaurant; none sticks out in my mind as above average. I've only been to the Double-N Diner and what is now the Sunrise Family Restaurant once each in twelve years, so don't really have a good handle on what their coffee is like. Tried Alabama Bar once, but had pop.
As to the pizza places, Maurizio's and Pizza Hut, I usually stick with Coke. The same must be said of Mario's Mexican Restaurant. I'm aware there are numerous other places around town which serve good, professional coffee; but I don't get around much anymore.
I always request coffee at Long John Silver's, even though it comes with powdered creamer. Decent enough drink, but it's more a matter of preferring coffee with fish.
That leaves the principle combatants in the coffee wars. The most recent entry is Hardee's, which has lately come out with some very good brew. The other leading competitor, McDonald's, originally was battling for the Starbucks market. Both offerings smell like brewed coffee, taste like true coffee, and come with real artificial cream.
And my nominee for "tastes like coffee" is ... McDonald's! With the Senior Citizen Discount it's only 52 cents.
If you have a favorite blend I'll be happy to try it. Warn me, though, if it is one of those specialty things -- I'll get my nitro pills.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.