A cup of Joe says a lot about us

Record Observer - - Religion -

This week I came face-to­face with a gen­uine dilemma. I had sev­eral meet­ings across town and for some rea­son I mis­cal­cu­lated and ended up with a 2-1/2 hour gap be­tween meet­ings. I hate to waste time, but if I drove back to my of­fice, I would sim­ply have to re­turn to my meet­ing later and with the cost of gas these days, one can­not be too cau­tious.

You know gas is get­ting high when it costs more to fill up the car than the car is ac­tu­ally worth. The most valu­able thing in my car is in my gas tank.

I reme­died the sit­u­a­tion by stop­ping in a small cof­fee shop for a cup of Joe. As far as I am con­cerned, there is no bad time to have a cup of cof­fee, in spite of the price. I or­dered my cof­fee and when the wait­ress brought it, I be­gan to think about cof­fee. Why did God give us cof­fee?

Then my mind went back to my grand­fa­ther, whose great­est gift to me was a love of cof­fee. No­body loved cof­fee more. I re­mem­ber one of his fa­vorite quotes, “You can al­ways tell a man by the cof­fee he drinks.”

Anath­ema to my grand­fa­ther was the idea of in­stant cof­fee. No man, in his opin­ion, would ever drink any­thing of the kind. “If a man would drink in­stant cof­fee,” my grand­fa­ther perked, “there’s no telling what else he would do. Never trust a man who drinks in­stant cof­fee.”

Mak­ing cof­fee was an art form to my grand­fa­ther. There was a right way and a wrong way to make cof­fee, and he al­ways in­sisted on the right way. Of course, the right way was his way.

In grand­fa­ther’s kitchen was an old wood-burn­ing cook stove. My grand­mother cooked meals on this an­cient ap­pa­ra­tus for more than 50 years. On this old-fash­ioned stove, my grand­fa­ther brewed his fa­mous mud broth. He never al­lowed my grand­mother to make the brew; it was his job, which he took se­ri­ously.

Once for his birth­day, we all chipped in and bought him an elec­tric cof­fee pot. I had never seen my grand­fa­ther so mad. When he saw what it was, he would not even take it out of the box.

He had strong ideas about cof­fee and how it should be brewed and woe be to the per­son who con­tra­dicted his ideas.

Grand­fa­ther al­ways kept a fire in the old wood cook stove and on the back of the stove he kept his cof­fee pot, a large 2-gal­lon pot — one of those old-fash­ioned per­co­la­tors long since gone out of style. The cof­fee was al­ways on, and no mat­ter when you stopped in to see him, he al­ways had “fresh” cof­fee brew­ing.

When I say, “fresh,” I need to ex­plain. Ac­tu­ally, the cof­fee was only fresh on Sun­day. On Satur­day night, he rou­tinely emp­tied the cof­fee pot and pre­pared fresh cof­fee for Sun­day morn­ing.

He had an old cof­fee grinder and ground the cof­fee beans on Satur­day night. He put some other things in the cof­fee, I have never fig­ured out what. One thing I know he put in was a crushed eggshell. What it did to his cof­fee, I have no idea but grand­fa­ther was sure it was an im­por­tant in­gre­di­ent.

The freshly ground cof­fee beans were put in, the pot filled with fresh wa­ter and set on the back of the stove to slowly perk. This cof­fee would last the en­tire week. The cof­fee was so strong on Sun­day that if it did not wake you in the morn­ing, you were dead.

In fact, Cousin Ernie died on a Sun­day af­ter­noon, so my grand­fa­ther tells the story, and one sip of his black cof­fee roused him and he lived seven more years, which was un­for­tu­nate for grand­fa­ther, as he had to sup­port him.

Be­fore re­tir­ing each evening my grand­fa­ther took care of his cof­fee. He would freshly grind a few cof­fee beans, sprin­kle it on top of the old cof­fee grounds and then add a newly crushed eggshell. Then he would re­fill the cof­fee pot with wa­ter.

His cof­fee per­co­lated 24/7 and by Satur­day it was so strong you needed a half-cup of sugar just to drink one cup. It was thick enough to use as syrup on your pan­cakes, but so strong, it dis­solved your pan­cakes be­fore you could eat them.

My grand­mother once tried wash­ing the cof­fee pot. When my grand­fa­ther saw her, he be­came fu­ri­ous, “Never wash that cof­fee pot,” he spouted, “you’ll ruin its char­ac­ter and a cof­fee pot needs a lot of char­ac­ter to make good cof­fee.”

When my grand­fa­ther died, I looked at his old black cof­fee pot and dis­cov­ered two things. One, the orig­i­nal color was blue. And two, al­though it was orig­i­nally a 2-gal­lon pot, it only could take three quarts of wa­ter. The “char­ac­ter,” so im­por­tant to my grand­fa­ther, had built up so much over the years its ca­pac­ity was di­min­ished.

In pon­der­ing my grand­fa­ther, I thought about my Heav­enly Fa­ther and His gifts. The Bi­ble puts it this way; “Ev­ery good gift and ev­ery per­fect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Fa­ther of lights, with whom is no vari­able­ness, nei­ther shadow of turn­ing” (James 1:17).

I re­ally do not know why God gave us cof­fee, but I do know God’s char­ac­ter is of such a na­ture that it never di­min­ishes His abil­ity to bless me each day.

Dr. James L. Sny­der is pas­tor of the Fam­ily of God Fel­low­ship, Ocala, FL 34483, where he lives with his wife. Call him at 1-866-552-2543 or email jamess­ny­der2@att.net. His web­site is www. jamess­ny­der­min­istries.com.

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