Educating Flossie

Flossie is a girl of simple tastes. She doesn’t do fluff, nor fluster, nor faff. She likes ‘simple.’ Not ‘elegant,’ nor ‘minimalist,’ nor ‘ascetic’: ‘simple.’

This should not be mistaken for lack of sophistication, however. That’s going on too, but her fondness for the straightforward is more practical: fussy stuff merely distracts her from whatever is the focus of her attention. Hence, it is not favoured.

You may, therefore, expect her house to be a pristine haven of spaciousness. Not so. Current decorating efforts notwithstanding, it’s a modestly randomised heap of stuff. Not ‘clutter’ per se, since she’s not much of a hoarder; simply that organising and sorting and stacking and filing and filtering are activities which, in Flossie’s world, border on the faffy. Why expend such efforts, when any object can be found at a moment’s notice, just so long as it’s not moved since it was placed… there?

In the kitchen, Flossie is a cook, not a chef. No florid three-line descriptions in mangled French for her. What few recipe books there may be are treated as suggestions, as starting points, as inspirations – most certainly not as methodical reference or dictate.

It is with some pleasure, therefore, that I have managed to sully and complicate this world of simplicity.

With coffee.

Coffee, in Flossie’s life, should be black, fairly strong, and sweetened just a little. To simplify: it should taste like coffee. Coffee purchases are therefore packets of grounds; fairtradey; otherwise nondescript. There’s no particular preference, nor brand loyalty. Until now.

Behold, then, Illy. It comes in cans, glistening silver things which open, initially, with a hiss of pressurised nitrogen. It demands forced filtration, in a machine of some description. The result is rich, smooth, aromatic, and … coffee.

Now, Flossie may attempt to maintain that there is no conflict here. Perhaps, she will argue, Illy coffee is the canonical coffee, the paradigm of all coffees. Ur-coffee. Hence, it is about as simple as coffee can get.

But no, we know the truth. Illy coffee is not merely simple coffee, it is indulgently simple coffee.

Such indulgence should not, perhaps, be encouraged, but with Flossie I think I may be safe. Further, it makes me happy to see her put herself first, for a change. ‘Simple’ is all well and good, but it doesn’t relax, it doesn’t comfort, it doesn’t cosset. Flossie deserves those things, and if she finds them in coffee, then so be it.


There was the mildly extravagant vintage Laurent Perrier at Christmas. She liked that, too.

Oh shit. What have I done?


  1. Hey, if you were looking for refined you were on the wrong page in the catalogue. Try under ‘A’ next time.
    In my world Potato Splat is a perfectly good description for a meal.

  2. One of the many things I love about you is your way with words. One of the many things that frustrate me about me is my inability to take a compliment.
    A whole blogpost beautifully written, just for me. I believe the appropriate response should be:
    Thank you.

  3. You two are very sweet.
    I adore Illy. Unfortunately it’s very expensive – on the order of 7 quid a tin.
    So we buy stuff I’ve never seen in the UK, an Italian brand, that maybe doesn’t have quite the smoothness of Illy, but makes quintessential coffee in a stove-top espresso maker (which I recommend you get, if you don’t already. One of the stainless steel ones, not aluminium.)

  4. I have a couple of the stove-top Moka things, but they’re not really compatible with the design of my current hob, annoyingly. Also, while they’re good, I’ve never quite been sold on the coffee they make – it’s somewhere between cafetiére and espresso, I feel.
    The Presso thing is much more like ‘proper’ espresso – smooth and … oh, the books probably say ‘hints of caramel’ or somesuch. I gather the pressure it generates isn’t high enough for it to be completely pukka as espresso, but it’s getting close.
    I’ll be interested to play some more with it, and see what it produces when fed with sub-Illy coffee.
    And yes, we’re quite sickeningly sweet. Sorry.

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