The dangers of percolating

by DRM


The art in percolation is knowing when to stop.

You prepare the ingredients: coffee grounds and water. You assemble the percolator. You turn on the flame. And you wait.

The iron embraces the intense heat of the flame and diffuses it. The molecules in the water swell until, in a violent moment, they crash against each other. The heat transforms the water into air and forces its way through the thin metal tube, bubbling into the grounds.

Intense and loud. The aroma is captivating.

But you have to wait until it is ready. The pot doesn’t know. A timer can’t tell.

Only you can tell. Sometimes you turn the flame down to soon. Sometimes you let it sputter on the heat too long. The liquid becomes bitter and thin.

When you get it right, the taste is wonderful.

Tolstoy said the best work comes when you aren’t working. Let the ideas filter in your brain. Go away from the work, because you are not letting the seeds grow.

His image is organic and natural.

Percolating coffee is manufactured. The elements are of nature — the coffee bean, the water, even the ferrous minerals that make the iron — but the combination of the elements is filled with discipline and intent.

I am reminding myself that when you percolate coffee, you have the intent to make the coffee. If you get seduced by the hypnotic cadence of the bubbling water, eventually you will burn off everything that was rich and distinctive. You’ll have nothing worthwhile left. What hypnotized you will leave you feeling empty.