Character-Building Coffee

Back when I worked at Fabricland, I happened to be the first one into the lunch room one morning so I made the coffee. As my co-workers drifted in and sampled it, their eyes popped open and they made remarks about the potency of my brew. When one of the managers commented about how strong it was, I told her I was going to follow the Canadian government’s advice.

“My coffee isn’t strong, it’s character-building.”

At the beginning of the 1900s the Canadian government had this vast tract of prairie land newly-opened up and they wanted it settled. But there were some issues. The present homesteaders were telling the folks back in the Old Country just how severe the winters were and how dry the prairies tended to be in summer. Hard to grow anything. A challenge to survive the winters.

“We can’t have this kind of talk,” the Dept. of Immigration decided. “Farmers will never be enticed to the area if reports like this circulate.”

The ad men of the day rose to the challenge. All hints of a cold,  dry climate were banned from Govt of Canada information brochures, distributed liberally in Europe to lure settlers to Saskatchewan and Alberta. Promoters were encouraged to substitute words that held more appeal. The climate of the “Northwest Territories” became invigorating and character-building; the severe winter winds were now bracing and great for the promotion of general good health. You could be a manly man in western Canada!

Our temperature this morning, -29 C, would be great for character building except that we’re wimping out and staying in the house where it’s warm. We’re very thankful we don’t have to hitch up our team of horses, drive ten miles to the river and chip through eight inches of solid ice to draw water. We actually thought it was a bit of a hardship when the back door lock was frozen this morning so we couldn’t open the door. Practicing prairie ingenuity, my husband defrosted the lock with my hair dryer.

Anyway, if my coffee pops my guests’ eyes open nowadays, I give the matter a positive slant: this is a rich, fervent brew. Invigorating and character-building, like our climate. Still, my coffee can’t stand up beside the pot a fellow who worked with a friend used to make.

How to Make A REALLY Aggressive Pot of Coffee

My coworkers grumbled about MY strong coffee and I used only about ½ cup of grounds. A friend was telling us about the way his coworker made coffee — if he got to the office coffee-maker first. (I understand his fellow office workers did their best to prevent that from happening. 😉 )

Here’s how he did it:
For a ten-cup coffee maker: put the little white paper filter into the basket as usual, then fill it level full with fresh coffee grounds (about 1¼ cups). Add the ten cups of water to the chamber and hit the ON switch. Dark, rich coffee will flow into the carafe. Full-bodied, you might say. (When your body is full of it your eyes will open wide.)

Try it sometime and let me know if your coworkers and guests find it invigorating.

Bean me up, friend!


9 thoughts on “Character-Building Coffee

    1. There are two key words here: insulation and heat. It’s surprising how long a person can endure being outside in -30 if they’re working hard, but anyone would freeze to death without well insulated outerwear and a warm place to stay. Our water pipes and plumbing would freeze solid and pipes would burst if they weren’t well wrapped with insulation and otherwise kept warm.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. So have you tried filling the basket with grounds and then running the water through? That would be like double strength espresso. 😉
      I suppose you like the Keurig machines? They produce some pretty character-building coffee if you use one cup of water per cup. I run water through twice per K-cup and that’s strong enough for me.
      Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂


      1. No Keurig for me. I’m pretty happy with pour-overs. I use my French press which makes it easy to adjust the strength as I see fit. I also have a lovely chorreador for when I have my coffee more finely ground.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. We are also living with some serious character-building winter cold. I have NO idea why anyone settled this area. Mostly non-arable, hardscrabble land. Steamy summers, bitterly cold winters. It’s an awful climate. I don’t even know why WE live here, except we seem to love it 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, it’s better than getting washed away in a hurricane, right? At least that’s what we here in Sask tell ourselves when we read the US news in fall. 🙂
    You’ve probably told me before, but my mind is a sieve. Whereabouts in this northern climate do you live? Somewhere there’s oodles of snow, by the looks of your latest blog post.


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