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Reflections In A Cup: New Coffee Formula

New Coffee Formula

June 12, 2008
By Stuart Daw


The following speech awarded Stuart recognition at the International
Toastmasters Humorous Speech Contest and has been transcribed for
Canadian Vending Magazine.

The following speech awarded Stuart recognition at the International Toastmasters Humorous Speech Contest and has been transcribed for Canadian Vending Magazine.

Tom Lightfoot really knew how to throw a party. Tom was a leading supplier of produce to the “carriage trade” of Toronto eating-places. Every year on his beautiful farm, just a few miles west of Toronto, he would throw a wingding of an affair for what was then called the Stewards’ Association, a precursor to today’s Canadian Food Service Executives Association.

dawThat group was made up of the crème-de-la-crème of Toronto foodservice, master chefs from places such as the Royal York and King Edward Hotels, as well as many other of the finer dining places, who looked forward to coming to Lightfoot’s farm every autumn. Tom asked each of them to bring their particular pièce de résistance, a sample of their own Epicurean specialty with them.


The buffet was magnificent, including suckling pigs, glazed hams and turkeys, angels carved in ice, and other preparations to be enjoyed solely by these gastronomical craftsmen and a small number of their suppliers. Lightfoot would pitch a huge tent on the broad lawn of his farmyard, a bar would be set up, and the buffet, when complete, was as fine an aesthetic presentation of culinary art as one could imagine.

My role was to provide the coffee, and for this task I employed a ten gallon spun aluminum stock pot known as a CB 10. And so with a ring, an urn bag and five pounds of the finest coffee, I would visit the farm around noon of the great day and put the pot on Mrs. Lightfoot’s kitchen range. The fresh cold water would be at brewing temperature when I returned to the farm around 5:30 p.m. to create a brew worthy of the

At the 1956 picnic, Tom decided to go one better. I know it was 1956 because that was the year I had bought a brand new 1956 Dodge. When I brought it home the first day and parked in the driveway, my wife looked out the window and exclaimed, “You bought a pink car!” “No, it’s black and white,” I replied. But it turned out she was right; I am red/green colorblind, and so for 60,000 miles I actually did drive a pink car!

And that was the year Tom had a great (and I’m sure expensive) idea. He gave away, through a draw, an animal to nearly everyone present at the picnic. There were puppy dogs, kitty cats, bunny rabbits, gerbils, and many other species. But he placed one caveat on the animal giveaway idea; you had to take the animal you won home with you. No exceptions. No returns. That first year when my name was drawn, I won a goat.  Space doesn’t permit relating all the details here, but I did get the goat home in the trunk of the car and the next day found a home for it with the purchasing agent of the Northwest General Hospital.

The following year, Lightfoot continued the tradition of animal giveaways, and this time I won a guinea pig. How could I get it home without doing any damage to my pink car? Well, I had rinsed out the coffee pot in Mrs. Lightfoot’s basement laundry tub. It was empty, and the handiest thing in which to place my new pet, so I just popped it into the coffee pot. When I got home, my wife, who was eight months pregnant at the time, was still awake, and I asked her where I might put the guinea pig for the night. “Anywhere but in here,” was her reply. So what was I to do but leave the animal in the coffee maker all night?

In the morning when I went out to see how the little animal was doing, the stench coming from the pot was overwhelming. Then I panicked, for I remembered that this was the day the coffee maker had to go over to the Island Airport just off the shore of downtown Toronto. There was an air show on that day, and the lady doing the catering needed the pot, and it was the only one we had to lend her.

After quickly fashioning a small box to hold the guinea pig, I sped to the office to have the pot boiled out. By 9:30, while it was somewhat improved, the smell was still definitely there. But I couldn’t temporize. The pot had to catch the ferry for the island, so I rushed down to the dock, instructing the ferry captain who to give the pot to.

I returned to the office more than just a bit frightened at the blast I expected to receive from the caterer. I had fantasies such as maybe 200 people getting sick and blaming the coffee. Or maybe a pilot of one of those old planes might crash, with the autopsy indicating some kind of guinea pig poisoning. To my surprise, my telephone never rang. The silence was deafening.
But the next morning it did ring, and the caterer was on the line. I waited apprehensively for the much-deserved blast I was about to receive. Imagine my surprise when she said something like this: “Oh, Mr. Daw, I’m so grateful. The coffee was fantastic, everyone just raved about it. Thank you so much.”

And so it was that a new road had been discovered to the perfect cup: one stock pot, one ring and urn bag, five pounds of coffee, and one live guinea pig in the pot for eight hours prior to brewing. Fantastic.