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By Bob Bridge, Columnist

cup of coffee

“I am a coffee fanatic. Once you go to proper coffee, you can’t go back. You cannot go back.”

— Hugh Laurie

I tried my first cup of coffee during a long road trip to Florida during the 1970s. I added sugar and nearly coughed it up. Such a horrific taste.

I tried my second cup of coffee at our next stop for fuel. This time, I omitted the sugar and liked it much better.

Today, it is hard to imagine beginning a day without my morning cup of joe. Fortunately, Rusty Allen, our building superintendent, brews a nearly perfect urn of coffee. I down three to four large cups each morning.

When driving solo to Florida, coffee is an absolute essential — from start to finish. I prefer it black as night and stronger than Hercules.

There was no coffee where I fueled the Jeep for my most recent trip to the Sunshine State. No problem. I knew I could make it to the first stop on sheer excitement generated by the much-needed vacation.

When the gas gauge showed the tank had dipped low on fuel, I exited off the interstate and pulled into a tiny station. After filling the tank, I walked inside and encountered a man with the personality of a stone. When I asked about coffee, he turned his head toward the far wall.

What I discovered there was a Nescafé machine. Never in my life had I tasted Nescafé.

I decided to give it a try since there was no other option.

Never again will Nescafé touch these tender lips.

Enough said.

So, as I crossed into Tennessee during the wee hours of the morning this old boy was in dire need of a genuine cup of coffee. I saw a billboard advertising a McDonald’s, and headed for the golden arches.

Alas, the restaurant was closed. However, across the street was a small Waffle House, and the lights were on.

The restaurant was occupied by three cordial employees happy for some company. They shared a few stories then provided me with the strongest, best tasting cup of coffee I’ve enjoyed in years.

“This is where drunks come to get sober,” joked Cody, the cook. “We make the best coffee you’ll find anywhere.”

He got no argument from this grateful traveler.

Burt Lancaster once said he judged a restaurant by its coffee. The same can be said of highway fueling stations. In the future I’m going to rely on that “ounce of prevention” adage.

I’ll be departing Florida with a thermos full of strong, black coffee. It’s safer that way ... for everyone.

This week I spent an inordinate amount of  time with cardiology specialists. I was asked to fast for a particular procedure that did not allow caffeine, most specifically coffee. It was a challenge not to stir up my standard cup of instant coffee.

I persevered and was rewarded with a delicious cup of joe brewed in one of those Keurig single-serve coffee makers.

How good was it?

Suffice to say that glorious gizmo has been added to my Christmas wish list.

Bob Bridge welcomes comments at 812-276-9646 or

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2 cups in the morning, one at night. You can’t beat it.

Soldiers in the lines at Antietam during the civil war couldn’t light fires so they chewed on the beans.

The late great Bedford distance runner Mark Ripley, used to drink a cup of coffee and take two no-doze, two hours before each race! I would always have him stop at a gas station two hours before starting time for coffee.

Gas station coffee, two hours before a road race improved each racing split by about 10 seconds a mile we figured!

4 things tonight ( it changes every night except number 1) I really look back at and consider life at its top!

My wife, the road racing…

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