Waffling Standards


NOTE: This article was SUPPOSED to be about Highlander Grogg, but I ordered it too late. So in its stead we’ll revisit the first cup of coffee I ever enjoyed.

Just a friendly reminder, kids: I am NOT some coffee diva who took tasting courses in France in order to gain a surgical palate when it comes to the nuances behinds different types of coffee. I honestly couldn’t tell you if the Jamaican Blue Mountain was grown on the east face of the plantation, or if the Kona is Prime or Peaberry upon taste. All I can do is tell if it’s a blend, and I can probably guess perfectly if there were a taste test between gourmet coffee and Folger’s (which, by the way, I was informed is the preferred drink of those who live in the same state that brought us Starbucks; and no, I didn’t ask if they were high.)

I don’t drink a lot of coffee, either. Even in these advanced years I’ve still got quite a bit of energy, so one or two cups should do the trick most of the time. If I drink any more than that I just end up feeling jittery and uncomfortable. And that’s when we’re forced to drink beer before noon. Really, though, I imagine those Colonel Tom Parker types who drink at least a pot of coffee a day don’t care if the bean juice they’re swilling down comes from the back dumpsters of Texas Presbyterian Hospital, a volcanic region, or a tree creature’s butt.

No, I like to think my primary reason for this column is to enlighten and encourage YOU, Dear Reader, on the myriad types of coffee you might not otherwise be inclined to try. And all the beer talk? Well, that’s just good filler, man.

A few years back in college -aka the place I should have really considered drinking coffee regularly- I would only coat my tongue with the stuff if I were dead tired from an evening of intense studying (or drinking, whatever.) And graduation kind of hit me like a bomb. I quit my job at the bar because I felt it was a college thing, and thought it best to open that position for another lucky student. Which was awfully nice of me, but came with one little problem: my fallback plan ended up not happening. So for a few good weeks there I found myself driving around the DFW Metroplex regularly for interviews. One particular job prospect had me fill out an application, and then asked me if I would be willing to stay nearby for the next hour or so for a possible interview. I decided to head over to the nearest Waffle House, since I figured a cup of coffee might open the brain passages enough to make for a much better conversation during the interview. Plus it was $1.35 for a bottomless cup of Joe, which at the time wasn’t too much of a strain on my ever-dwindling savings. And let me tell you: it was the BEST DAMNED COFFEE I ever had in my life! I assume I don’t have to tell most of you why that came as such a surprise, seeing as how we’ve all had the food at 3 in the morning after a long night of cramming for tests (or whatever.) The last time I ordered some hashbrowns -smothered-and-covered, of course- it looked as though I’d been given some sort of grease soup. Heck, the grease itself comes with a side of grease. Anyway, I didn’t get the job, but I did gain an appreciation for their coffee, which is almost as good.

Over the years, though, I’d gone my own path into understanding the value of good coffee. And my first foray into coffee appreciation became a distant, almost unreachable memory. So the other morning I woke up earlier than the rest of the family (everyone in the house but me had a cold and were sleeping in.) During a nice jog/brisk walk around the neighborhood I started thinking about making some coffee when I got back to the house if the family was up. And for some reason a little thought pinged in the back of my brain: was Waffle House coffee actually as good as I seemed to remember, or was I just that new to the game? Well, I got in, took a shower, none of the other three lazy residents of Chez Jason were stirring, so I headed down the road to the nearest establishment. I sat down at a booth because the guys at the counter looked like they were drawing flies, and when the nice waitress who seemed to have absorbed her toothy twin in utero came over, I ordered a cup o’ joe. Now bear in mind I wasn’t expecting much, and I figured since the last time I had coffee from this particular place a good decade had come and went, so it might not even be the same brand. Also I’m not so calloused and refined that I cannot sit and have diner coffee; if it ain’t too bitter, then I’m down for anything. So my first inhalation of the aroma was quite surprising: my olfactory memory recognized this aroma as the same bold sweetness I had originally enjoyed all those years past. It was the same coffee (turns out it comes from a company called Royal Cup, if you’re interested,) and while I might have had better stuff in my day, it was still really good. I had three cups, threw four bucks on the table, and fidgeted my way out the door.

All in all, I was quite pleased with this trip down memory lane. I plan on going back pretty soon, and bringing the wife and kids too if they would learn to wake up at a decent hour on the weekend. Maybe this time I’ll actually try the waffles, since it occurred to me I’ve never even tried the food for which the place is named.

Easy on the grease, of course…


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