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Surviving A Coffee Nightmare

Friday, November 29, 2013


Alt: What should you do when the kettle isn’t working?

The worst thing has happened.

The kettle in your office has broken. There isn’t a mobile coffee franchise in sight. It’s 7.30 in the morning. It’s Monday. You got in extra early to crack on with work. You were just making your first cup and it all went wrong. The element didn’t heat up, or the fuse went, or something equally technical and far beyond you and your whole day is ruined before it has even started.

You’ve run between floors; there is just no kettle anywhere.

Might as well go home now, hey? Ring everyone else and tell them not to bother coming in. There is no way you will make it through the day. No deadlines will be met. This is worse than the time your boiler gave up the ghost in January and when you forgot your girlfriend’s birthday combined. That would be quite a pleasant morning compared with this.

But wait.

Let’s think about this logically. Mobile coffee franchises don’t use kettles. Coffee shops don’t use kettles. Surely man functioned in a world without kettles. Coffee has been around for centuries, and we’re pretty certain electric kettles haven’t been.  That said it probably wouldn’t be the best idea to create a small fire in your office and heat your mug over it.

Once I moved into a new house, and I didn’t have the foresight to buy a kettle. The oven worked so for a few terrible pre-kettle days every time we wanted a cup of coffee we resorted to boiling water in a saucepan. It did the job, but it’s quite a faff. And whose office has a fully functioning hob, anyway? The supplies just aren’t there.


Alt: Don’t forget to place a non-metallic object in there to lower the risk of super-heating.

Using the microwave for your coffee fix isn’t the best, but if it must be done, make sure you do it in the least awful way possible. Heat water separately and pour over beans as you would have if the flipping kettle had worked. You can even use microwaved water for cafetière coffee. Whatever you do don’t try and construct a cold coffee and then heat to taste. The grounds won’t dissolve and you’ll end up with a horrendous milky mess.

Be extra careful if you’re microwaving water, and remember that it will heat from the centre first. Place something non-metallic in the cup, such as a wooden stirrer. This will increase surface area and help form bubbles. Microwaved water can become super-heated if you’re not careful. This is when it gets hotter than boiling point without bubbling and can then erupt. By placing a non-metallic object you’ll give the bubbles somewhere to gather. If you heat at short intervals and stir regularly, stopping when the water is steamy you should prevent this.

You’ve managed to make one fairly dire cup of lukewarm instant ‘brown’. It’ll get you through until your tea break but you’ve still pretty concerned about how you’ll get through the day. And you don’t think you could stomach that again, even with your high caffeine requirement.

You’re going to have to go out for coffee.

You work miles from the nearest coffee shop, and you aren’t served by a mobile coffee franchise. Your co-workers have asked you to pick them up a cup ‘as you’re going’, like the caffeine starved professional wolves they are. You also cycle to work so this might not go well. What a terrible day. Tomorrow you’re bringing in your own kettle.

Always Be Prepared


Alt: Are solar kettles the answer?

In future we will plan ahead. In future we will have a coffee contingency plan more prominent than the fire evacuation method – which you might need if you went for the office campfire approach to making hot beverages. An emergency solar power kettle shall be kept behind glass with a tiny hammer for access, and spare jars will be in every drawer.

We will also request a mobile coffee franchise to coincide with the morning coffee break, because microwave coffee is horrendous, and apparently solar power kettles take about two hours to boil.

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