03 August 2009

A Romance Built on Coffee

TO A LARGE degree I owe my marriage to Douwe-Egberts coffee. Without it, Kerri and I may have never started dating. It certainly wouldn't have lasted. I was reminded of this when I walked into a supermarket in Amsterdam this weekend and saw the shelves stocked from top to bottom with all-conceivable varieties of the brand.

When Kerri and I were attending university in England back in the early 90s we found ourselves at a school with no good source of coffee on campus. In fact, the nearest place to procure a decent cup was a good 20 minute walk away -- and that just wasn't good enough. So we took matters into our own hands. I told Kerri to meet me in the dormitory lounge the next morning when we both had a break. Meanwhile, I went to the store in search of coffee to brew in the old coffee-maker I had in my room. I chose Douwe-Ebgerts mainly because several of my Dutch friends (Alex, Ithamar, Frank) had convinced me that the Dutch brand of coffee was absolutely 'the best.' I also bought 4 mugs.

The next morning Kerri made her way to Keough House and I came down from my room with two hot mugs of coffee. Very, very, strong, black coffee -- you know, the kind where you obviously got the measurements wrong. But it was good. Bitter and virtually undrinkable, but good. Good because we could now make coffee ourselves and good because we now had a solution to our 'there's no coffee on campus' problem.

The coffee got better as I learned the perfect coffee-to-water ratios. For most of the year we had a hot cup of coffee in the dormitory lounge a couple of times each week. Sometimes other friends would join us (Jamie, Roland, Rein, Amy), sometimes it would be just us. Sometimes we'd spend the time studying, sometimes we'd just talk and laugh about silly things. But one thing remained constant the entire year: the coffee was always Douwe-Egberts.

We bought a package in Amsterdam the other day-- the first time we've purchased Douwe-Egberts since about 1992. If nothing else, it brings back good memories.

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