Happiness is… a Hot Cup of Coffee

Most mornings, I break my fast with a cup of coffee. Some days I brew coffee; most days, because sleep is a premium, I go instant. I heat about two cups of water in an electric kettle and pour it over a heaping teaspoon of coffee granules. I add a packet of stevia, then a tablespoon each of heavy cream, butter, and coconut oil/MCT oil, the last depending on what I have at the moment. I pull out my Aerolatte frother and stir away, creating a rich, smooth, and creamy concoction. I smell the faint hint of coconut and the strong notes of coffee, and already, my senses are wide awake.

I like to take my time to savor my coffee. I usually just have one cup a day; on special occasions, though, I make an extra cup. But when Alphonse- my coffee guzzling son- comes out of his little schoolhouse in the morning, I have to gulp the whole thing down in a hurry, leaving only a teaspoonful or so at the bottom of the cup for him to drink. I have to tell you that caffeine and Alphonse don’t mix very well, unless I want a hyperactive man-child literally climbing the walls.

Lately, Alphonse has been asking for more and more coffee. I take that as a sign to stop drinking coffee in front of him so I decided to extend my intermittent fast to 18 hours, moving my BPC in the afternoons while Alphonse is busy. This way, I have a few hours to enjoy coffee without downing the whole thing in one go.

Now this is where Ember comes in to give my life an extra boost of happiness. I got the Ember travel mug as a Christmas gift over the holidays, and while I have accumulated a wide variety of mugs and tumblers over the years- from double walled stainless steel vacuum flasks to plastic reusable mugs and hardy acrylic cups to dainty ceramic teacups- nothing quite beats the virtues of the Ember.

Just what is the Ember?

The Ember is the the first temperature controlled travel mug that keeps your beverage at your desired temperature for hours, allowing you to enjoy your drink without hurry. For people like me who like to sip and savor, the Ember is a handy mug to have around. It may seem like a novelty, especially since some thermal mugs can keep things warm for hours, but once you’ve tried it, you’ll love the way your coffee (or tea) stays exactly the same way for hours.

At USD150, the Ember travel mug is a pricey deal, particularly when one considers that its volume is only 12 ounces. The 10-oz Ember ceramic mug is a little more affordable at USD80, but without a lid, it is more useful for home and office use. I prefer the flexibility and durability of the travel mug. The huge advantage Ember has over newer, less expensive temperature mugs (such as the Lexo tumbler or Joeveo’s Temperfect mug) is that it allows one to remotely set the temperature via a smartphone. While I write, or clean, or bake, or even get the occasional catnap, I keep the Ember filled with hot coffee and it helps me get through another afternoon of chores. I’ve been using it for a few months now and I can say with certainty that it is a great way to enjoy a hot drink any time of the day.

Most US Starbucks stores carry the Ember, but for those of us here in Asia, Amazon is our best bet for purchasing one. The good news is that the product is available for delivery to the Philippines.

Pros: easy to use, remote fine tuning available, completely washable

Cons: price, availability in the country

Verdict: If you love coffee, you won’t go wrong with the Ember. 🙂 It’s worth every cent.


Coffee Break

I’m on my fourth cup of coffee right now, the blackest, most bitter cup of coffee I can tolerate because right now, I am still sleepy and it’s almost mid-afternoon. Getting Alphonse to bed hasn’t been much of a problem these last two nights, though his sleep hours are still off as he wakes up really early in the morning. Everyone rushes to bed as soon as Alphonse sleeps to anticipate his early mornings but I have a hard time following suit. Even with all the chores finished, I lie in bed awake, staring at the ceiling. I read until I feel ready for sleep, but sleep remains elusive until it’s very late. As such, when he wakes up in the morning, I am bleary-eyed and disoriented. I am definitely not a morning person.

The only thing I love about mornings is coffee. I love coffee’s rich, deep scent. I love the way a single cup could infuse an entire room with its enticing aroma. I love the explosion of flavors in my mouth, a mixture of different kinds of sweetness with tiny hints of dry and bitterness. I love the robustness of coffee, its fullbodied thickness lingering for several delicious moments. I love the way it fills me up warm from my throat to my belly. I love it instant. I love it brewed. I love it black and bitter. I love it with cream and loads of sugar. I love it light and frothy. I love it heavy and dense. I love it with chocolate or cinnamon or vanilla or coconut, or just about anything I could think of. Yes, I love coffee. (Can’t you tell?)

The Oatmeal has a great post (you can buy it as a poster)  called 15(ish) Things Worth Knowing About Coffee which begins with the legend of dancing goats in Ethiopia. I find it really apt that that the birthplace of history and, some would say, life (Africa) is also the origin of one of life’s most lifegiving, energizing drinks. As an Asian, I grew up with tea in the house but that never really caught my fancy, unless I had to be forced-fed with it when sick or when trying to lose weight. I can drink tea only two ways- cold, with lots of lemons and sugar, or hot, with lots of lemons and sugar- whereas coffee makes me crazy with all sorts of combinations.

Perhaps the only coffee I have never ever thought to try is Kape Alamid (its name in the Philippines) or Kopi Luwak (Indonesia), coffee made from the beans of robusta or arabica berries eaten and passed partially digested by the Asian civet.  Said to cost a whopping USD600 per pound, this is the most expensive coffee in the world. I love my coffee, yes, but thinking about how these beans passed through the civet cat and ended up as poop  is enough to make me …uhrm… hurl.  I invite you too to do a Google search for pictures of Kopi Luwak and see this and this and this…No, I am NOT going to post pictures! With those images burned in my head, how can I ever drink Kopi Luwak ever?

It’s good that I like my coffee cheap and easy. Then again, who really needs expensive ass coffee, tell me?