Shorty's Pro Tip

Pedestrian Ramblings

Notes from Shorty’s Kitchen

Fall 2023

Shorty's Coffee-Making Protip

I haven’t posted anything in a while from the kitchen. I have friends who post a lot of pictures of food, or themselves holding fish, and some folks playing music. I guess I do that too, but I try to stop myself from being too predictable, or one-dimensional. I mean after all how exciting can it be to see another grip and grin picture of a steelhead or a brown trout? Although I do admit, I have a propensity to post a lot of music shots but that is kinda of business.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. I find that a surprising number of people make comments or inquiries about Shorty’s. More than one person has pm’d me asking for directions, and I guess I added to the confusion by making a couple of posts from Shorty’s Creek Side and Shorty’s Barn Annex. For whatever reason, posts from Shorty’s Kitchen have a bit of a following. I have posted pictures of coffee, food, and kitchen utensils, but rarely “pro tips” which is what this rambling is about.


I think it is safe to say that in every relationship there are certain things, or maybe spaces that are unique to one individual. Regardless of the depth of the notion of shared property, almost everyone in a relationship has something that is specific to them. In Shorty’s Kitchen, I am merely a short-order cook, a transient worker,  a “busser’, and maybe, on a good day a sou chief.  I am often entrusted with essential cleaning assignments or held slightly accountable for cleaning up after myself. I rarely, if ever venture into the realm of using power equipment, like the Hobart, or any of the food processing equipment that is found in the kitchen, with two exceptions. The first was an Osterizer blender that I had in college, and yes, its primary function back then was associated with rum beverages. It is remarkable that it still functions, and my grandson Hugh has given me the title of “Smoothie King”. The second is the Braun coffee grinder.


As I am the only coffee drinker in the house, I am the only person to consistently use this appliance, and it falls into that category of something that is exclusively mine.  Consequently, the maintenance and care of the Braun coffee grinder is solely my responsibility. Aside from occasionally being unplugged and moved, it is rarely touched by another hand. I have to admit, I never read the owner's manual or instructions that must have come with this unit, and I can’t even recall how it happened to come into my possession. My routine care calls once and a while require the unwrapping and rewrapping of the excess cord in the clever but ineffective storage area at the bottom. I was delighted to realize after several years of use, that the top cover makes a perfect scoop to move coffee from a large container into the “grinding bay”. (I just made that term up, grinding bay!) Other than plugging it in, scooping in coffee, pushing the top down, moving the ground coffee to the Melita, and fiddling with the cord, I haven’t done anything but repeat this process. And it has worked flawlessly, until the other day.

I’m not a coffee fanatic, but I get a little anxious in the morning as I start to make my morning java. I don't want to say excited, but I could easily use that term, so I hope I am setting the stage here to illustrate the dumbfounded state I was in when I tried to push the top down and nothing happened. Of course with all of the clear-witted thinking you would expect from a foggy-brained decaffeinated old man, I tried to push it down several more times, until the reality stuck, I had a problem.

Now, generally speaking, I like a problem, really I do. I kind of enjoy trying to fix things, make stuff go, resolve conflict, all that stuff, until I get overwhelmed with my own inability, bored, distracted, or realize I really don’t care if the problem is resolved or not.

This was a different situation. I needed some coffee, and I was going to focus on the problem at hand, until such point I needed to go buy some coffee.

No big issue here, closer examination revealed that there was this small protuberance on the top of the Braun that fit into a hole on the bottom unit, and when the lid was pushed down, the little protuberance, pushed a recessed on-off button activated the grinder motor. A little scrutiny revealed that after years of use, despite my devotional care and attention to this dependable little appliance, this hole was plugged up with ground coffee.

I don’t recall ever washing or wiping down this thing, so there is a logical explanation for why it wasn’t working.

This was a simple fix. I turned to one of my most dependable tools, a toothpick. I use toothpicks for all kinds of stuff! And sure enough, a toothpick once again, resolved the morning crisis. If you are thinking this was the pro tip, consider the info on the toothpick a bonus, here is the pro tip.

I’ll ask you to recall that the top of the Braun makes the perfect scoop to place coffee in the “grinder bay”, and it being morning, I had filled the bay with coffee beans. If you are ever going to clean the on-off buttonhole in a coffee grinder, filled with a toothpick, you should wear safety glasses, or empty the beans because when you push the toothpick into that hole, you will activate the motor resulting in a spectacular explosion of coffee beans. I mean, a really remarkable, cluster bomb eruption occurs. The other option is before cleaning out the little hole with a toothpick, unplug the appliance.

And that’s all from Shorty.

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