Instant coffee is not coffee. It’s just not. It shouldn’t even be a thing. 

It’s a lie in an emergency glass jar, only to be cracked opened in moments of extreme urgency, like say, for instance, a morning where you slept in because you hit the snooze button so hard it refused to work any longer. You stumble into the kitchen to discover there is no real coffee. And you aren’t allowed to kill anyone. 

I wasn’t alone in my disillusionment. My teenage son and I stood before the empty coffee pot, both barely conscious, our tiny eyes squeezed between the puffiness of sleep deprivation and a slow dawning realization that we were both going to have to go to our respective schools/jobs for the sake of a routine neither one of us is sure we chose. And there’s no coffee brewing in the coffee pot to make any of this better. 

It gets worse (if that’s even possible). We were out of sugar too (who runs out of sugar and coffee? Savages, that’s who.) But imagine my surprise when I spotted it.

Next to the empty sugar bowl was a glass jar of instant coffee. We both looked at it, and then back at each other again, then back at the tiny glass jar as if it was an alien object mysteriously placed on the kitchen counter. It drew both morbid curiosity and a sense of foreboding. It had the same label as the giant coffee tin that was now inexplicably absent from the top of the fridge, the one that held real coffee.  

There was an inaudible exchange about who put that glass jar there. Did it just appear out of nowhere? Who buys instant coffee but a desperate man who spent too much money on drive-thru coffee to be able to afford the large tin of ground coffee beans? Wait a minute. It all became crystal clear. 

This was the work of the Carpenter, that’s who. That scoundrel. He must have picked this glass jar of instant desperation up with the groceries the night before, keeping enough money in the budget for his coffee shop stops en route to Toronto the next morning. 

Cruel. He knows I despise instant coffee because, as I’ve clearly stated, it’s not coffee. I’m not even sure what it is, actually. It looks like burnt chocolate cookie crumbs, but it tastes like fake caramel flavour poured over dirt, probably fancy organic dirt, and then left to dry out into crunchy bits of ick. Coffee should not dissolve in hot water. It should still be bean grinds, not mud. It’s a horror show in a cup.

Instant coffee is right up there with those packets of white powder cream that people dump into their fake coffee and swirl it around to make a beige liquid concoction that reminds me of the shade of spice nylons from the 80s. Remember spice nylons? They were meant to make your legs look like you had a tan in January. Lies. Deceit. Instant disappointment.

But desperate times call for desperate measures. I taught my son how to make instant coffee. He marveled at its simplicity. It was like a science experiment. But then, he brought the mug to his lips and, instant disappointment. 

It was the start of a very long day that ended with the Carpenter arriving home with the big tin of the real stuff. 

He is lucky to be alive. 

WriteOut of Her Mind