War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

coffee redux

so I’m sitting in my office (the 1976 green brocade couch at Caffé Fantastico…the kind of formal sofa that mothers used to put plastic covers on and forbade their kids to look at never mind sit on) and David comes up and says, “when are you heading out again,” and I tell him. “I’ll have your beans ready. I guess you want them ground. Drip or what?”

and I tell him I’m thinking of getting one of those little camp espresso makers because army coffee is, well, army coffee (brown, wet, high-octane and weak), ubiquitous, so he tells me where to buy an espresso maker, and that stainless steel is best…

and yes, I apologize, but it’s true, west coast is coffee culture… what can I say? maybe it’s to jolt us out of our complacency, the mental and physical fog we live in here in the soft west (a week of snow a year, two in a bad year)… I’m quite certain of that… a few weeks in Meunster, Sask. at St. Pete’s, in February two years ago, startled me awake with its brilliant cold… I loved it, vowed to spend time on the prairies during winter… all that sky and white earth and the subtle colours, and that shock of life that comes with each inhalation of winter air…

anyway… I think about how one morning at Wainwright with the 22e Regiment, we were ordered awake and told to be up, dressed, tent down, gear stashed, ready to roll in five minutes, and how I barely had time to take a piss before the ramp of the LAV was raised, (coffee or breakfast… a fantasy) and how we made do on slices of white bread with cheez whiz and no-name p.b. and a swig of water and that was it for hours and hours, and while the lads all had smokes to nicotine themselves up to speed, I just sort of suspended myself in that curious infantry-learned meditative state as we bumped and rolled over the prairie, and tried not to fantasize about little cups of espresso in Italian piazzas in late July…

and I think about my father, dead now five years, ex-RCAF, and how he used to make his instant coffee with hot water from the tap and how we laughed and gagged at that (yes, true coffee snobs… unforgivable I know)

so it’s with interest that I learned from the war artist Scott Waters, himself an ex-infantryman, about Ranger Coffee, an old stand-by on the range…and while most of us (especially west coasters) might abhor the idea of it, quite frankly, the next time I’m sealed into a LAV for hours and hours, I’m going to give it a try… it just might be the thing to get me through the day, and strangely, there’s something appealing about its self-sufficiency…

Ranger Coffee recipe:
One package instant coffee powder
One package powdered creamer
One package sugar
One mouthful of water

tear open all packets and place in mouth
take a mouthful of water and swish around to mix with powdered contents.


1 Comment (Closed)

Douglas Hill

Ranger coffee. Mmmm. A great comment on the whole “on the move” thing. I like the recipe format—witty. Reminds me indirectly of the woodsman’s recipe for cooking a loon:
Gut and pluck loon.
Fill body cavity with a rock.
Boil in pot of salted water for a week, changing water daily.
Throw away loon; eat rock.

Nov 29 2008 · 10:05

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled coffee redux. It was posted here on November 28, 2008.


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