It's not cool to grind your own coffee. It's not uncool. It's just a thing lots of people do every morning, myself included. Having a strong opinion of whether or not a person should grind their own coffee is one of those things that marks a person as psychotic. If other people want to drink chock full o' nuts that they keep in their freezer, good for them. They're saving money, and they're as happy as I am. Probably happier, in fact, since they have slightly more money.
But I like grinding my own beans. It's fun, it makes a loud noise, and how often in your life do you get the opportunity to pulverize something into flakes? As someone with no strong feelings about coffee—I'm a tea man—this seems odd, but it's not something I've ever pursued. Pursuing things is not something I like to do before I get my coffee.
While grinding beans this morning—beans that I could tell you nothing about, except that they are from across the street and turn into coffee if you dump hot water on them—I had a flash. A memory-thing. I grind beans because of The Ipcress File.
I watched that Michael Caine spy thriller sometime in high school, in the depths of a Caine obsession that would lead to Zulu and Alfie and The Italian Job and whatever else my movie store had. The Ipcress File is a very odd movie, a psychedelic secret agent...something. It was a bit much for teenage me. But the opening sequence stuck with me.
Apparently, in the '60s, you could tell a lot about a person by how he prepared his coffee. Owning an electric grinder must have been very mod when Michael Caine became a star, because it's the first thing we see his secret agent doing. Not fiddling with a cocktail shaker, not checking the clip on his Walther—he's grinding coffee. This is a hip secret agent, we learn. A bachelor who knows how to take care of himself. A bachelor who knows how to take care of England.
I'm no secret agent. (If I were, I wouldn't tell you.) But in a teenage desire to become one, I seem to have internalized a simple axiom. Spies grind coffee, and I should too.