How $20 saved our vacation



This week I got a lesson in simplicity, and it was because of coffee

We are on vacation at Cape Cod.  I come to Cape Cod because I love the ocean, and it is a simple vacation. It’s not a place you come to fill every hour with activities. It is a place you come for the simple joy of the ocean, empty hours with good books, walks on the beach.

Simple. Pleasures.

I love coffee. The woman I love, loves coffee. So does my daughter, and my niece who is with us on this week away at Cape Cod. We start our mornings with cups of the rich black stuff. In a week away, we’re likely to drink more coffee than normal just because we have the time.

The house we are renting is well equipped. Pretty much everything you’d want is here. It is cozy, has a big outdoor fireplace outside, and the kitchen has everything you need to rustle up good meals.

It even has a coffeepot.

And oh my, what a coffeepot. It’s got buttons galore, each of which seems to do half a dozen things. It’s got a manual. A big thick manual. You can program it every which way but Sunday. What you cannot do is simply fill the bin with coffee and water and press a button to make coffee.

It is not just a matter of I could not figure it out. Not that I didn’t try. I even read the manual. All of it. I’ve read shorter and less convoluted mystery novels. You can’t do it. It must be programmed and timed to make coffee.

And want to make a second pot? (and the answer is always, yes, we do.), then you have to  (get this), unplug the dang thing. Wait 15 minutes, then plug it in and reset the clock (I kid you not.) and then program it to make coffee again.

It drove us mad for two days, not just because it was complicated and I actually had to read the manual, but because the programming was wonky. Do it this way this time, and it worked. Do it this way that time and it would not. We always finally got coffee, but early in the morning, when you are fog-brained and just want some of the elixer of the gods, it was maddening.

We finally gave up. Went to the grocery store. Bought a cheap Proctor Silex. It has one button. Pour in water. Put in coffee. Press the one button: Coffee.

There is a place for fancy coffee pots. I know that. But not in a time and place where simple and easy is the byword. (Which is my life, by the way, not just my vacation.). Give me simple. One button.

Just because you can make it complicated, doesn’t mean you need to.

I am reading a book right now, called the Devil’s Cup, about the history of coffee. In it, the author goes back to Ethiopia, where coffee began. Coffee is an art form there, a social ritual. And very, very simple. And very very good. We can learn from that.

So twenty bucks saved our vacation. Everyone is happy. Life is simple again

As it should be,

Be well. Travel wisely. Keep it simple.



  1. If you REALLY want simplicity, try the Chemex. You don’t even need electricity! It’s my favorite way of making coffee.

  2. I have one button and that’s the way I like it. Keep it simple. 30 years ago I would like to conquer that coffee machine. Even 20 years ago. 10 years maybe. Today One button suits me fine.

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