Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Living with a coffee-hater

"I would just tell him to pull up his big boy underpants, and just deal with the smell." 
-- a coworker of mine.
As most of you know by this point, my husband/best friend HATES coffee, and not just that - he hates the smell.  It's been an interesting challenge over the years, keeping my coffee habit hobby from impacting him.

I've had quite a few people (usually in discussion forums) tell me I should just tell him to put up with the smell, and that I shouldn't bother with my coffee-minimizing efforts.  I think people assume he's just being whiny, and that it's just not that bad.

But... I have to wonder - where is their empathy? I mean, haven't any of them ever experienced a smell that was so invasive that it made them feel sick?  I have (overuse of body sprays do that to me). And I know how I would feel if my partner decided that he was going to fill my house with a smell I hated, every single day of the year. Seriously, it would be NOT OK, if Chris introduced a hobby that I loathed, and made no effort to accommodate me, and then had the temerity to say, "suck it up, Buttercup."

And when that coworker mentioned Chris's big boy underpants, I was was bothered by her words, not just because she was so dismissive of someone else's discomfort, but because she so obviously and openly looked askance at the way I dealt with my husband.

So, I just tell people this:  "Just as I have the right to have coffee in my own home, he has the right to not have to smell coffee in his own home."

When we moved in together, I packed away the little Krups 4-cup coffee maker my college roommates gave me for my birthday one year.  I was no longer using it that much, anyway, preferring the convenience of fast food and convenience store coffee.

I decided early on not have hot coffee in the car with him - it would cause his sinuses to produce copious quantities of goo, and he'd cough like crazy. I've wondered for years if he might be allergic, but coffee (in small quantities at least) when added to foods like chili or brownies doesn't bother him in the least.  If we were driving late at night, and I needed something to keep me awake, I'd buy cold Frappuccinos at convenience stores. Cold coffee is much less aromatic, and while he doesn't much like being in a confined space with it, it doesn't usually make him cough, so it remains a workable solution for travel.

I rather liked Burger King's coffee, and was still drinking it almost daily on my way to work, until 2010 when they switched to Seattle's Best, which I don't like at all (it's really bitter and harsh). That is what led me to start brewing my own coffee again.  If they hadn't switched away from their earlier BK Joe supplier, I would probably still be drinking it, and not writing this blog.

I have one thing going for me - coffee smell is volatile. Within an hour of coffee being consumed, the smell is undetectable, even by his sensitive nose.

Storage has proved the biggest challenge.  I double-bagged my beans. When that didn't contain the smell (fresh beans are smelly!), I bought a plastic storage bin (like the kind that goes under your bed) to put my double-bagged beans in that.  That helped a lot.  I also kept my grinder in a plastic bag, inside the bin (it had fresh bean bits all over it, so of course it was a source of smell).

My plastic Melitta coffee brewer that sits on a coffee cup tended to stink of coffee even when it was clean, and I was starting to get leery of using plastic with hot beverages, so I switched to a ceramic version.  Inert materials like glass, ceramic, or stainless steel don't smell of coffee after they've been washed.

Besides double-bagging, used coffee grounds had to be kept outside, and not emptied into the kitchen compost next to the sink. So, I found a little compost bucket that I kept right outside the kitchen door.  But, it had no lid, and Chris could smell it when he sat in the hot tub, 6 feet from the kitchen door. So I bought a new compost bucket, with a lid. That worked.  The compost piles aren't far away - only a few feet away around the corner of the house, but the grounds in the actual piles don't have enough smell left bother him.

During the work week, I make coffee during the week, after he leaves for work.  And on weekends I banish him to the basement while I make my coffee (his office is downstairs, so he goes and plays on his computer, or watches TV). I close the door at the top of the stairs, and that keeps the smell from getting to him... Mostly.  And when it's above 60F outside, I have a cute little cafe table, where I brew outdoors. It's kind of fun - like having a tea party or something.

He also listens to me talk endlessly about coffee even though he has no interest, and he geeks out with me when I get a new grinder to try (he was quite impressed with the Lido 2, which I let him play with before I contaminated it with beans). Like me, he's a tool whore.  He even encourages me to take our daughter to coffee shops with me, seeing it as a bonding experience (which it is).  He even wishes he liked coffee, and thinks it would be fun to share the hobby.

And every once in awhile, he comes across a mention of a particularly good coffee roaster, and gets it shipped to me as a surprise.  And that's especially sweet.

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