Sunday, July 11, 2010

Any Idiot...

I can still see it in my mind’s eye, and hear his booming voice, “Watch this!” My dad proudly opened the microwave, placed two cups of cold coffee inside, closed the door and pressed some buttons. Sure enough, the turntable started to spin and we soon enjoyed two mugs of steaming coffee.

He was so proud of this accomplishment (learning how to run the microwave), and Mom was really glad, too, since before that, he’d fix the problem of cold coffee by running it through the drip machine a second time!

That memory was rolling around in my brain last week when we had a coffee catastrophe.  Pour yourself a big cuppa joe, and let me share about the day our good, old, reliable Delonghi died.

The previous night, it worked, but in the morning: nothing.

Now I don’t know about you, but here at the end of the road, coffee ranks right up there with wire stretchers and leather work gloves – but is needed way more often. I just can’t imagine life without it.

So, that fateful morning when Delonghi gave up the ghost, we had a critical conversation.

Me: We’ll just have to get it fixed. In the meanwhile, I have the Bodum coffee press that can make one cup at a time.

The Cowboy: I think we should just get a new one, Joey. Repairs often cost more than replacements.

Me (the cheap one on this place): Let me check into it first. Meanwhile, here’s your cup – now I’ll make another for me.

 Sure enough, the Cowboy was right (glad we didn’t bet on it!) The parts were no longer available for that old dinosaur, and replacement was the way to go. Next step: research coffee makers. The last one hung out for almost 10 years, so I was pretty sure they came with new features now.
Some recommended Tim Horton’s, but the Cowboy didn’t like the idea of water sitting in the machine. He thinks fresh water is crucial.

I came up with a few models that looked interesting and got good reviews, and by the time we were both very tired of the slow ‘cup-by-cup’ method, we made a quick trip to town for horse feed, a fuel filter, and a brand new coffee maker!

Sure enough – major changes had occurred in the world of java. Now, you can get milk steamers, instant frothers, and even ones that grind the beans. Woo hoo! Talk about fresh coffee.

The price was over the moon, but by then we were so caffeine deprived, we would have paid anything.

Home once again, the cowboy set it up on the counter, tossed the 3 inch thick manual aside, and proceeded to make coffee. When I questioned him about reading first, he just shook his head. Any idiot can run a drip coffee maker,” he assured me. And sure enough, in went the beans, on came the grinder, and soon the aroma of fresh coffee was wafting through the house. Oh man, life was good once again.

For the next few days, we enjoyed the great coffee that machine put out. Since the cowboy gets up before the chickens, he makes the coffee in the morning. I hadn’t yet learned how to run it when our new pastor and his wife came for supper.  But, I gave it a try. After all, any idiot can run a coffee maker. I guessed what the buttons meant and got it going, but when I poured the first cup, out came hot water. The cowboy came to the rescue, and got it going. By this time, I wasn’t sure where the manual was, so the next day he taught me how to run this wonderful contraption.

We tried several kinds of beans, and became somewhat persnickety about the whole experience.

We learned about beans from different climates,

 photo credit:

roasting techniques, strength, water source, and were about to become full-fledged coffee snobs, when it all came to a screeching stop. On the fourth day, the grinder quit.

Now, the cowboy can fix almost anything. He’s amazingly talented and quite mechanically inclined (unlike his bride, I might add). He’s also not one to give up easily. In his world, not only can any idiot run a coffee maker, but any idiot can fix one, as well.

Before he’d finally had enough, we had three large bath towels on the kitchen floor mopping up the water that had to come out of the reservoir before he could conduct a detailed examination. Twelve cups of water sure seems like a lot more when it’s all over your kitchen floor!

And because the grinder had to be emptied before he could get a good look at it, the beans were dumped out and were now rolling around in the puddle. At the cost of those crazy beans, I was down there trying to salvage them, while the Cowboy had the vacuflow out to suck up the last of the beans from the grinder. I was on my way for duct tape -- just in case...  (Did I mention that we’re just a little bit of a haywire outfit?) when the cowboy gave it one more try. He turned it on, and -- nothing, nada, zero. We heard only a feeble hum.

He shared his opinion on this *#@* machine, grabbed his fencing gloves and headed out the door sans travel mug.

“No, no, no,” I whined, “We can’t go through that all again!” I remembered the store clerk telling us that if we had trouble with the machine, we were NOT to return it, but rather we should call the number listed in the manual.

Now where was the blessed manual? Hmmm...where in the world did I put it when I tidied up for the good Rev. and his Missus?  After a good long search, I found it where all coffee maker manuals should be kept, don’tcha know – in the piano bench. I opened it up, dialed the 800 number, and was promptly connected with Bombay.

They started the usual routine of “press 1 for this and press 2 for that”, but I learned a long time ago that if you just keep pressing 0, you’ll eventually get a live person. (By the way, that strategy doesn’t work with Telus. It simply results in your paying your bill in the amount of “zero dollars and zero cents.” )

Back to Bombay:

After I explained my situation to Haamid, (I knew a live person would answer!) he kindly assured me that he would help me get that coffee maker going again.

“Have you cleaned the chute?” he questioned.

I explained that the drip part of the coffee machine worked, it was just the grinder that didn’t. This doesn’t have anything to do with a chute,” I assured him. “The motor for the grinder just quit – and we’ve only had it for 4 days!”

“Please don’t be confused, Miss Joey,” Haamid spoke softly. “Just open the chute and use the brush to push the grounds through, okay?

“The brush?

“Yes, the one that came with the machine.”

“Sorry, Haamid, I think my husband might have tossed it out – he would consider that ‘extra parts’.”

“Oh my, Miss Joey,” exclaimed Haamid, “Perhaps you should use your fingers, then.”

I found the chute (with great coaching by Haamid) and pushed about 3 cups of grounds that were packed like cement into a tiny little hole. No wonder the grinder couldn’t work.

At last, we got it going, and after the beans dried out, I loaded it up once again. I almost cried when I heard that grinder start.

This long, long story is just about over, can you hang in for just one more thing?

I poured a big cuppa Jamaican Blue Mountain and headed for my computer. I wanted to check once again how this machine was rated.

There it was in bold print:

Ease of Use: Any idiot can operate this machine.


I’m pretty sure I’ve got it figured out now. Come on over and I’ll make you a coffee. But before I do, I might have to announce like my dad, “Watch this!”

PS Just in case you’re wondering about the missing brush. I found it yesterday – where all coffee maker brushes should be kept, don’tcha know – with my cell phone charger, of course.