By Greg Seitz
Yesterday while finishing my coffee before work, it dawned on me that my Double Shot mug has been with me for some 15 years, maybe longer. I don’t even remember what year I got the mug, but I do remember the circumstances: It was a raffle prize for an event at the now-defunct Marshall Mountain ski area. It had just been launched as a follow-up to the Big Sky Bistro (which I’d been using), and I was excited to graduate to the sleek stainless steel design.
Since then it has powered me through long wilderness trips, tedious accounting coursework and the dark predawn commute to my job sites up in the woods. I’m not really one to get attached to belongings, but I do have an intimate relationship with coffee, and the mug has been present to an extent that at some point I started to see it like an old friend. In all those years it’s taken some hits, but the mug still performs its function: a convenient coffee experience where and when the moment dictates.
Coffee and a Journey
With so many drink containers on the market these days, and with cupholders having become ubiquitous, it’s easy to forget that beverages haven’t always been this accessible. I don’t know if people used to live at a slower pace or were just chronically thirsty, but prior to the 1990’s, coffee, and drinks in general, weren’t really something to take with you. Sure, there was the classic Stanley thermos, and for camping there were percolators and moka pots, but all of these were prohibitively heavy and cumbersome.
When I left home after high school and blundered my way to Montana, my first living arrangement was a mint green 1978 Chevrolet cargo van. And while I loved the glass french press I found at a thrift store for its flavor and the wallop it packed, I broke carafes monthly, and at all the wrong times to boot. I had no idea what I was doing in general, and my frustration manifested itself in my inability to make good coffee. “Hot water and grounds,” I remember pleading with the unfinished metal in the van’s interior. “How can it be such a hassle to pass hot water through grounds?”
My, how times have changed. Innovation has elevated coffee to a lifestyle, (at least for some of us) for which portability and quality have become standard. Now $150 will buy a temperature-controlled travel mug which the user can ‘operate’ via smartphone app. The choices can be overwhelming, but we’re living in a golden age of coffee taste and experience.
And to me, taste and experience are what coffee is all about. No matter what I’m doing, or how hectic that may be, a sip of coffee is a pause, a return to the here and now. All the better if it can accompany me through good times and bad, wherever my path may take me – just like any true friend.