The Grind

BY ALEXA CHERRY
For the UAS Whalesong
Not the Juneau-based chain specifically, but yes, this article is going to be about coffee. Coffee comes in many different flavors, and there are many different styles of making coffee. I am here to give you some information about this ever-essential part of college. If you prefer to drink tea, stick around. I can convert you yet.
For me, I’ve decided that there are 3 basic types of coffee. There’s morning coffee – the most important kind, and the one that most people partake of most frequently. Then there’s afternoon coffee, which is either your desperate attempt to stay awake in your 2-hour evening class or just you and your friends getting coffee at Spike’s or an equivalent café location (also known as “social coffee”). Finally, there’s nighttime coffee, also known as “deadline coffee.” But before I break into discussing these separate types individually, let’s talk about how coffee can be made.
I think that most everyone in college either has their own coffee machine, or has access to someone else’s. I have never used, or been trained in the use of, the big coffee machines that can make entire pots of the stuff. However, as a wee baby freshman back in the day, I was very proud of my prowess with a French press. I later graduated to a Keurig, and so I think I am in a unique position to share with you the pros and cons of both styles of coffee-making.
My father uses a French press, and taught me how to do so before my departure to college. I find that there is a manner of elitist coffee snobbery involved with French pressing; not as much as if you were using a pricey espresso machine, but apparently the quality of French press coffee is significantly superior to automatized coffee. It’s also ideal for people who like to have involvement in their morning routine; you heat up some water in a kettle and then pour it into the French press, on top of the coffee grinds you have spooned into the bottom (either straight out of a bag, or from your very own coffee grinder). Then, on well-scheduled mornings, you let everything settle for a few minutes before slowly pressing down the plunger and then pouring your handmade coffee into your mug of choice.
French press coffee sounds like it takes a lot longer than it actually does; it’s honestly a fairly quick process, and there’s definitely a small sense of pride in making your own coffee like that. Plus, it easily makes two or three good-sized mugs worth, while keeping the rest of your coffee fairly hot in between cups. However, there is again the effort involved – you must get out of bed, fill and start the kettle, find something to do while your water heats (besides go back to bed), and then press it and dress your coffee as you see fit.
This is where the convenience of the Keurig comes swinging in to save the day, sort of like Spiderman. I have yet to find a Keurig that will have coffee ready and waiting for you when you wake up, like in the beginning of Back to the Future – or like a bulkier, slightly pricier coffee machine would be able to do, I guess. Still, some Keurigs do come with a timer that you can set to have it turned on and ready to go when you wake up in the morning. This means that you can grab the Keurig cup of your choice, tuck it in the machine, and let things take their course while you slog to the bathroom to splash some cold water on your face and regret your scheduling choices. It’s way more impersonal, but there’s also more room for variety in your coffee of the day (as opposed to working your way through one bag of beans). In addition, some of us care less about how our coffee is made and more about getting a cup of coffee in our hands in under 5 minutes.
However you choose to make your coffee, I believe that the original 3 types of coffee still stand. Morning coffee is, perhaps, the most variable type; you either have time to make the exact kind of coffee you like in the exact way that you like to make it (and maybe even drink a whole mugful before you pour the rest into a travel mug on your way to work or class), or you have time to make whatever you have time to pour in a cup on your way out the door as you simultaneously attempt to comb your hair and pull on socks. There is no in between.
Afternoon coffee is somewhat more relaxing. This can be your redemption from an earlier attempt at frenzied morning coffee – or even worse, if you missed morning coffee, and finally have time to make or buy some. More frequently, however, I find that you end up with afternoon coffee in the form of “I’m heading to Spike’s/the Grind/etc., wanna come?” Again, afternoon coffee is also something that’s nice to get right before heading into a full afternoon/evening of classes. Then everyone else in your class who forgot to get caffeine can seethe in silent jealousy while you get to enjoy your lovely hot (or cold, if that’s your jam) beverage.
Finally, we come to nighttime coffee. This last kind of coffee, in my opinion, is best when it’s black, bitter, and entirely unmodified from its original state. That way, it jolts you awake every time you take a sip and are hit with its full uncensored force. Even if you absolutely despise black coffee with an unbridled passion, good. Take that hatred and channel it towards benefiting yourself and your cause in the dark hours of the late night and early morning.
There’s a lot more I could say about coffee, but I’m running close to hitting my word limit for this article. Maybe I’ll write a follow-up later about the different types of “café coffee,” for those of you who still aren’t sure what the difference is between a latte and a mocha. In the meantime, good luck – and remember, freshmen, never be afraid to offer your upperclassmen friends a cup of coffee! We are weak to caffeine. It’s in our nature.

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