I think it’s time for me to come clean and admit to my family and friends that I am addict. ”Hi. My name is Elise and I’m addicted to COFFEE!” Okay, I may not be a HUGE addict, but in order to function on a daily basis, I need to have a basic 2 large mugs of caffeine (sometimes 3) and I will leave you alone and go on about my day. If I don’t have the required amount I can get pretty nasty by 10 am. Just ask Mia Famiglia, they have witnessed this on several trips and it’s not pretty.
How did I come to this realization? About a month ago I told Peter that my coffee didn’t taste the same. It was just weird. Everyday my coffee was getting more bitter and well, just not good, not satisfying. Peter doesn’t care because he hates coffee so he would never notice that the coffee was starting to taste bitter.
I tried everything. I cleaned my coffee maker, twice. I tried all various kinds of coffees such as Illy, Lavazza, Percol, etc… I even tried some fair trade brand from Wholefoods that I probably overpaid for but hey, I’m desperate. Nothing changed.
Then last week, while I was talking with a bunch of Canadian women who have lived here for a while, and we were discussing my coffee intake, (while having coffee) and (yes I know, pretty lame but coffee rules my mornings and we were talking about this after our Wednesday morning walk so sue me!), one lady who has been living here for 30 years asked, ”Do you have a water filter? or softener? Did you look at it?” My response was, ”I think we have one in the cupboard in the kitchen. There’s this big box thingy that goes on automatically every once in a while…”
That was quite the revelation. I got home and realized that I hadn’t heard the water softener work in a couple months. Usually, the thing starts on its own and I never have to worry about it. In fact, up until about a year ago I didn’t know what this machine in the bottom of my kitchen cupboard was and someone said ”it’s your water softener.”
When Peter got home that night I was sitting at the kitchen island reading a water softener manual that I found on-line. In it I learned about putting blocks of salt and opening valves and ….I don’t know the rest it’s all a blurr. When Peter asked what I was doing I just said ”I think it’s the water softener that doesn’t work and it’s the cause of the water being so hard and my coffee tasting bad.” Peter who is probably tired of hearing about my coffee, opened up the water softener and let me just say, it was not a pretty sight. It was pretty mucky in there and there were no signs of blocks of salt anywhere.
The next morning I phoned around and after several phone calls I found out that no one wants to touch the particular model in our place. Too old and never worked well. One of the technicians I spoke to told me to disconnect it because this model tends to flood places. He was in the middle of explaining how to do so when I told him, ”No! NO!, Stop! I will not touch it. I do not need to learn about operating a water softener. I will call someone.” It was reminiscent of the British Gas technician trying to teach me about turning boilers on in this country. There are like 12 steps and you have to do a gig at the end…I don’t need this knowledge. Can’t teach an old dog new tricks and in this case, I am an old dog. I hung up and did what I always do, I sent an email to my land lady in Beijing and called the best general contractor in the city, Bart! Bart is the man! If he can’t do it, no one can! Sadly, Bart is on vacay for three weeks but I am willing to risk flooding the place in order to wait for him. We will meet on Sept. 7th!
In the meantime, what is a coffee addict to do without a good cup of coffee? This is where I have taken this up a notch. Every morning when I wake, I have my one cup of mediocre coffee in the house and then, after 8 am when most coffee shops around South Ken have opened, I go for a run and reward my 5 km with a nice almond latte. I have been running different routes to see which place has the best coffee. So far the winner is Benugo in Hyde Park. Also the cheapest. So it’s a win-win and my addiction is satisfied and regulated and now I can happily say ”Hi my name is Elise and I am a functioning coffee addict.”