At some point in February 1995, while attending high school, I started drinking coffee. Winter was cold that year and I was generally the first person to wake up in the morning, meaning it was my job to prepare the first pot for my parents. They drank fine-grind Maxwell House and, because that's what they had, that's what I had as well. As one would expect from a teen, my caffeinated beverage would contain a bit too much milk and far too much sugar1. The first cup would be ready a little after half-past four in the morning2 and then I would bring a travel mug with me on the bus to school. Almost a quarter century has passed since I started drinking the addictive liquid, and it remains one of my pleasures to this day.
Earlier today, while performing a quick image search for "a good cup of coffee", I stumbled across this post that offers a suggestion on how to make instant coffee taste better and was curious to know what they might suggest. As I'm the only coffee drinker in the house, my coffee is an AGF instant brand called "Blendy". It's quite smooth and not too bitter. Of all the instant coffees I've tried in Japan, it's by far my favourite3. What's interesting, though, is how many people roll their eyes or scoff when they hear — or see — that I drink this particular coffee. Despite people's opinions, however, I've managed to work out a pretty good method to consistently have great coffee. So what could this random article on the Interwebs suggest that might improve my daily joy?
What you do: Pour 1 tablespoon of cold water into your mug, then add the coffee grounds and stir until fully incorporated. Fill it to the top with hot water, stir again and enjoy.
Well that was a disappointment. Who doesn't do this when mixing a drink from a powder?
What I do is similar but, rather than use cold water, I use cold milk; the only thing permitted in my coffee.
- Pour 1 finger's width of milk into the coffee cup
- Add 1 heaping teaspoon of coffee
- Stir for 30 seconds while the hot water comes to a boil
- Pour the hot water into the continuously-stirred coffee-milk mixture until the mug is about ready to overflow
- Lift the spoon out of the cup while still stirring, stopping only after the utensil has completely escaped the steaming liquid
Not including the time to boil, a mug can go from empty to "peak-sunshine" in under a minute, and it's both cheaper4 and more enjoyable than anything from the chain or boutique coffee shops that pepper the region.
By "far too much", I mean "more than zero". Haven't had sugar in my coffee for about 20 years now, and there's little chance I'll go back to putting that stuff in my cup ever again.
I used to get up really early back in the 90s.
Blendy is also one of the cheaper instant coffees, generally selling at 350 Yen for 220g, which is good for about seventy-five 350mL cups of coffee. I know this because my coffee mug can hold the contents of a 355mL canned beverage without spilling over thanks to the magic of surface tension. When I make a cup of coffee, I fill the sucker right to the brim … but just shy of relying on surface tension.
A cup works out to 4.6667 Yen in coffee, 2.75 Yen in milk, and some amount for water and electricity. This works out to less than 10 Yen per cup. I have no complaints.