The Star-Herald

Iron butterfly

Due to cultural or religious reasons, or possibly a very stern stepmother who kept her children locked in the attic for years, there are adults who have managed to avoid addiction to our country’s biggest vice, coffee.  For most of the rest of us, it is simply not possible for us to navigate a whole day without at least one cuppa’ Joe. An attempt to do so would be futile, like trying to complete Algebra homework with “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” piped into our headphones at 92 decibels … all 17:05 in a continuous loop.  The experience would be mind-blowing and counterproductive at best, but more likely acutely painful.

Fortunately, caffeine fiends are everywhere, so we openly feed our habit.  Once upon a time, the offer of a cup of coffee at a neighbor’s or when you cleaned up pretty for a job interview involved a glass jar with crumbles of crusty brown stuff that looked like crushed worm castings.  Sanka was considered “the good stuff,” though there were other brands equally capable of dissolving nearly instantaneously in hot water to make a bitter, brown beverage with a sludgy finish.

The advent of the microwave diminished the attraction of instant coffee since yesterday’s brew could be restored to hotness, though not goodness, by poking a few buttons.  Others simply leave the pot on the warmer for hours and hours for a fluid better suited to spackling nail holes in a dilapidated apartment than consumption. You can always doctor the stuff with that powdery white stuff with the oxymoronic name “non-dairy-creamer” and half a dozen packets of sugar.

Recently, people began to experience a “Johnny Paycheck moment,” eschewing coffee mediocrity for specialty shops.  They drive across town or across The County to get a cup of “their brand,” hoping for coffee that is smooth, flavorful and aromatic, as fulfilling as your first love before that relationship went south.  They barely contain their sense of betrayal when the experience fails to match the hype or the price.

Ben Nason was one of those guys.  But rather than set himself on a quixotic quest with disappointment scattered like punctuation across his experience, he took the time to educate himself.  He learned what elements were necessary to obtain a good cup of coffee. He began purchasing coffee beans from a number of different countries with flavors and characteristics as unique as their origins.  He mastered slow roasting and began blending beans to generate coffee flavors that complemented each other. He came up with combinations that pleased his palate, then formed his own company to offer patrons the opportunity to enjoy his coffee blends.  

Most Saturdays between 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., you can find Ben under the Stori Bord Coffee canopy in the Presque Isle Farmers Market at Riverside.  He offers fresh, “flash brewed” coffee over ice that you can doctor with real cream and sugar syrup to your own tastes. Enjoy an iced coffee while you shop and purchase bags of blended coffee beans to grind fresh and brew at home.  

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, baby.

The Presque Isle Farmers’ Market president for the 2018 season is Deena Albert-Parks of Chops Ahoy Farm in Woodland. For information about participating or visiting the market, contact her at

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