We have a theory that middle-aged coffee hipsters obsess over the drink precisely because it doesn’t matter.
We use an AeroPress to make coffee. It’s basically a coffee syringe. The really delightful and wonderful thing about the AeroPress is the brevity of the clean-up operation. Once you’ve finished pushing the coffee through the filter to make your drink, you just take the end off and push a bit more to deposit a puck of coffee grounds into the compost. It comes out with a satisfying ‘pock’ sound, but the key part is that because you’ve already pushed everything through, all you need to do is rinse off the end of the AeroPress and it’s good to go again.
It’s a design that satisfies precisely because it’s so simple. So obviously people massively complicate matters.
They actually have an AeroPress World Championships each year and the winning recipe is generally a study in anal retentive complexity.
The King Cricket recipe is: ‘Add coffee, add hot water, push through’. The recipe of the 2018 AeroPress World Champion demands 34.9g of coffee (grind size 8), 85 degree water and a 30-second press and there are any number of finicky instructions beyond that.
It’s insane, but it’s also a weirdly relaxing thing to be aware of. Because it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter at all. And you don’t have to use this recipe yourself.
If you have a stressful job and maybe a child or two (or, Lord help you, even more children than that) then your brain is basically just a gelatinous blue goop by about 8pm. The last thing you want to do at that time of day is think about anything of consequence.
What could be less important than watching other people worry about a drink that you aren’t even going to make because it’s the evening? This is how we have on occasion found ourself watching AeroPress World Championship recipes on YouTube. It is the lowest stakes viewing imaginable. Almost all coffee-related videos are. (Our number one complete-loss-of-perspective-when-worrying-about-coffee YouTube moment was a guy making coffee while camping who wanted 17g of coffee. He had a 16g scoop and reluctantly concluded that he could get close if he heaped it slightly. “We’re just going to have to eyeball it,” he lamented with a sad look in his eye.)
Watching this nonsense basically amounts to learning things that you don’t need to remember. When you otherwise have to think about and remember lots of things that do matter, this is weirdly calming. It’s almost like rinsing out your synapses.
Never underestimate the psychological value of unimportant shit. It doesn’t have to be coffee. We’d guess that model railways did a similar thing for some people back when they were a thing. That’s not what matters in this context though. What’s important here is that coffee is a very modern synapse rinse and as a consequence you’d do well to get to the age of 33 without drinking any of the stuff.
Because that’s what Eoin Morgan somehow managed. Deep into his report on the second T20 International between New Zealand and England, Wisden editor Lawrence Booth casually dropped the jaw-dropping fact that Morgan only had his first taste of coffee last week.
There are two big questions here.
- How did Morgan go 33 years without having a coffee?
- What monumental development finally persuaded him to give it a go?
Not being in New Zealand at the minute and not having Morgan’s mobile number either, we asked Lawrence. He was sort of able to answer the second question, but not the first.
He said: “It was a question out of the blue from a local reporter. The implication of the answer was that he’d never tasted coffee before, but had been told NZ coffee was very good, so he gave it a try.” (Morgan said it was terrible, incidentally. In New Zealand’s defence, we’ve established that Morgan is far from an authority on this subject.)
So how did Eoin Morgan go 33 years without having a coffee? Was that the first time in his entire life that someone had told him that coffee was nice? Did someone close to him have a bad experience with coffee when he was very young? Had he never been tired before?
Maybe he’s just one of those people, you’re thinking; one of those people who doesn’t try things; one of those people who takes a firm position on a food or drink without any evidence, like a four-year-old. (We hate these people. Grow up. Just try the thing.)
But it’s not that. We know Morgan’s not a non-trier because eventually he did try it.
This week’s experiment suggests it wasn’t a deliberate policy, it was simply something he never did. Eoin Morgan hung around on Earth for 33 years without ever once thinking to take a sip of coffee.
Like so much about Morgan, this spectacularly long-term coffee avoidance is very mysterious. It’s not that he didn’t like coffee (not until last week anyway). He’s just… avoided it.
What does this say about him? It feels like a small thing that betrays something larger. It feels like a window into his psyche.