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In praise of Joe

My love affair with coffee began in college. I never had a taste for the stuff until then, and ultimately developed one out of necessity. You see, I'm a terrible procrastinator and most of my school work was done in one panicked all-nighter after another. Luckily, a few of my friends had gotten jobs at the campus coffee shop and were more than generous with the free drinks. At first, I sipped just enough to get me through that night's project. Before the end of the semester, I had a pot-a-day habit.

Now, I don't know what I ever did without it. Too long without it and my body notices. I need that first cup in the morning or I get a headache. Sometimes I need to follow up lunch with a latte. If it's been a really long day, I sit down with a cup after dinner. Keep me away from my coffee for too long and I get cranky, sluggish, and really kind of mean; it becomes obvious that I'm an addict. But can you blame me? There's an entire culture built around me and my fellow addicts ... and a history that dates back to the ninth century.

But y'all, it's hard to be a coffee addict in the middle of a Mississippi August.

Not that I won't sip a hot coffee while it's 95 degrees and horrifyingly humid. And sure, the occasional frilly frozen coffee drink from your Friendly Neighborhood Coffee Retailer will do the trick, but it's not quite the same. When I want coffee, I want coffee -- not a cup full of whipped cream and caramel. That's why I've taught myself to make an iced coffee using only the ingredients that God intended: coffee, cream, and sugar.

I start off with strong coffee. Usually two tablespoons of coffee grounds per cup. After brewing a good 8-10 cups, I just add a cup of milk, a cup of half and half and 1/3 cup of sugar. Serve over ice and don't expect to go to bed anytime soon. Some people will insist that the best iced coffee has to be made with a cold drip maker in order to bring out the coffee flavor while cutting down on the bitterness. But trust me, as a gas station coffee connoisseur, the coffee maker you have on your kitchen counter will work just fine.

In closing, I leave you with the words of Marge Piercy:

I love you hot

I love you iced and in a pinch

I will even consume you tepid.

Dark brown as wet bark of an apple tree,

dark as the waters flowing out of a spooky swamp

rich with tannin and smelling of thick life—

but you have your own scent that even

rising as steam kicks my brain into gear.