Zombie coffee and coffee as social glue

Zombies … bleary eyed, they stumble out of their bedrooms into the kitchen and want/need to make coffee. Brains barely engaged. Friends sometimes share a photo or anecdote of something silly they’ve done when they’ve made coffee in the morning. E.g., whole, instead of ground, beans inside the pour-over dripper. Some days we need the coffee in order to safely, successfully make a cup of coffee.

This burr grinder is pretty simple. We’ve already set the coarseness, so we’ll assume we don’t have to adjust that. I’ve marked up the photo to show the steps:

(1) Put whole beans in the hopper.
(2) Turn the knob to grind a certain number of cups (essentially run the grinder for a certain time).
(3) Remove the ground coffee from the bottom compartment.

It is amazing how many adventures this little grinder has had. It has a see-through plastic lid on the hopper. Before we put the sticker on the lid, at least three of us have accidentally poured the whole beans onto the lid, scattering beans all over the counter and floor. And at least two of us have done it more than once.

One of us accidentally poured water into the hopper instead of the electric kettle.

And after teaching one guest how to use the grinder and make a pour-over, the next day I was in the kitchen with the guest, doing my own thing. I heard the guest say, “That’s weird. Some of the coffee came through.” But the guest managed to continue on to make the cup of coffee. The next day, I heard the guest say something like, “Hmmm. The grinder didn’t work.” That’s when I and the guest realized that the guest was putting the whole beans where the ground beans should end up. Heh heh.

Those are zombie-needs-coffee stories, attesting to coffee being required for mental alertness. Another function of coffee is to serve as social glue. For this, it needn’t really be coffee. It could be tea. Like Indian-style chai at the yoga shala. Maybe it’s a cigarette break at work for those who smoke. It’s the small thing/reason/excuse that people briefly pause around, and engage and chat with each other. And why not make it a two-fer — wake up AND socialize.

A bike ride with one or more others is just a bike ride, or a run just a run, without the coffee to gather around afterward. If you’re the one who always rushes off to work or on to other things without lingering with your buddies, I honestly feel you are missing out. Humans, even introverts, are social beings. This pandemic has certainly brought that to our collective awareness.

For those of you who entertained when that was still possible, we discovered that throwing informal, open-house-style coffee tasting parties (nothing elaborate, just the two different roasts of our coffee) was a lot of fun. There are different expectations for a dinner versus a coffee, not even breakfast, gathering. We’d provide little tidbits like biscotti, scones; and others would, unasked, contribute coffee cake, mini-tarts, quiche, etc. And it became this fun morning party. People gathering, chatting and moving about, coming and going as their mornings allowed. We knew the party would be what it would be, depending on how many showed up, when. Intense, then it’s over, and you still have the rest of your day. You aren’t washing dishes at midnight or rolling into bed exhausted and/or drunk like you might after a dinner party.

On a more intimate note, I’m feeling deeply sad. Our covid-bubble couple are moving back to the mainland. It was already planned a year ago but was put on hold because of the pandemic. Since September we started regularly (bicycle) riding early Sunday morning, followed by coffee on the lanai. At first it was just coffee. Then we started sharing our experimental baked goods, snacks, brunch, and the after-ride would sometimes stretch longer than the ride. I find it one of life’s true joys, to be able to linger and while away unstructured time with friends.

With travel severely restricted and large gatherings discouraged, we haven’t even been spending time with the cousins, even the ones who are our neighbors on the family land. The ‘ohana gatherings were always as a gang, but each family has gone nuclear all year to do our part to avoid getting or spreading the coronavirus. So, for my husband and me, our in-person social lives consisted of this bubble of us two couples. We spent the big fall/winter holidays together. It was different for all of us, since they’d normally be with their adult children, and we’d be with our extended family.

Their leaving and the intense friendship under isolation with all the coronavirus restrictions seem to have triggered a melancholy and sadness. This is probably an accumulation of negative-tone emotions from the whole year that have been squelched by keeping busy. I think this mourning and grieving have broadsided many others at different times, related to this pandemic and weird year. Our friends’ move is an ending of a certain life period that will be indelibly emotionally imprinted on us.

In case you missed it before, I’ll close with a copy of the poem “We Are Not in the Same Boat” by an unknown author that made the social media rounds about a year ago.


I heard that we are in the same boat. 

But it’s not like that. 

We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. 

Your ship can be shipwrecked and mine might not be. 

Or vice versa. 

For some, quarantine is optimal: moment of reflection, of re-connection. Easy, in flip flops, with a whiskey or tea.

For others, this is a desperate crisis. 

For others it is facing loneliness. 

For some, a peace, rest time, vacation.

Yet for others, Torture: How am I going to pay my bills?

Some were concerned about a brand of chocolate for Easter (this year there were no rich chocolates).

Others were concerned about the bread for the weekend, or if the noodles would last for a few more days.

Some were in their “home office”

Others are looking through trash to survive.

Some want to go back to work because they are running out of money.

Others want to kill those who break the quarantine.

Some need to break the quarantine to stand in line at the banks. 

Others to escape.

Others criticize the government for the lines.

Some have experienced the near death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it, some are not sure their loved ones are going to make it, and some don’t even believe this is a big deal.

Some of us who are well now may end up experiencing it, and some believe they are infallible and will be blown away if or when this hits someone they know

Some have faith in God and expect miracles during this 2020.

Others say the worse is yet to come.

So, friends, we are not in the same boat.

We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different.

And each one will emerge, in his own way, from that storm.

Some with a tan from their pool. Others with scars on the soul (for invisible reasons).

It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, more than looking, seeing.

See beyond the political party, beyond religion, beyond the nose on your face.

Do not underestimate the pain of others if you do not feel it.

Do not judge the good life of the other, do not condemn the bad life of the other. 

Don’t be a judge. 

Let us not judge the one who lacks, as well as the one who exceeds him.

We are on different ships looking to survive. 

Let everyone navigate their route with respect, empathy and responsibility.

2 thoughts on “Zombie coffee and coffee as social glue

  1. Wow, beautiful post. I love the number of stories that are accumulating about our zombie-greeting grinder. As a zombie, I poured whole coffee beans “into” the hopper only to discover the clear lid was on — as the bouncy beans went all over the floor (TWICE!). That’s why you added a sticker to the lid for visibility.


  2. Love your share and for the beautiful poem. All of it is a reminder to honor, and have compassion and gratitude. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *