Of hats and hot water

While I was at Womadelaide on Sunday, I bought a hat. I’m not much of a hat person but I figure I should have one or two for hot weather. Today I went for a walk with my new hat on, mostly in order to find out if I could wear a hat in public without being overcome by embarrassment. (Also out of an awareness that if I make excuses not to wear it, it’ll never get worn.)

I felt mildly apprehensive, but hopefully there’s not really anything to be embarrassed about in going outside looking like this . . .

hat-front hat-side

In other news, I recently did some investigating into how much milk I like to put in a mug of coffee. Generally I just pour in the milk until the colour looks right, but I wondered what I’d discover if I tried to quantify that as a ratio of so much instant coffee to so much milk.

To decide scientifically what coffee-to-milk ratio makes for the best taste, I would have to do the experiment blindfold, which presents problems when you’re dealing with hot water. I suspect my discernment would be relatively poor. So in practise, my judgement of how much milk to put in is based not directly on the flavour, but on the colour that I associate with that flavour. The colour, moreover, is very likely to influence my perception of the flavour. Psychology is like that.

But the pot thickens, because we’ve all experienced the optical illusion whereby a medium colour next to a dark one looks light, yet the same colour next to a light one looks dark. When I started the investigation I hadn’t thought of that, but as it turns out a coffee-to-milk ratio of 1:2 looked pretty good in a white-rimmed mug, but a tad on the light side in a black-rimmed mug. Similarly, a coffee-to-milk ratio of 2:3 looked pretty good in a black-rimmed mug, but decidedly too dark in a white-rimmed mug.

For the sake of giving some kind of an answer, though, I’m declaring that the perfect ratio of coffee to milk is 0.5625:1. (That’s three-quarters of a teaspoon of instant coffee to four-thirds of a teaspoon of milk, with the mug then filled with hot water. My brand of choice, by the way, is Moccona – either Intensity or Indulgence.) I admit to being somewhat tongue-in-cheek in declaring such a precise result, but it’s a pretty good ratio all the same.

The experiment is harder with tea, because I don’t have a way to measure how much tea I get out of the bag. But with the teabags I used (Tetley All Rounders) I got a satisfying result using about three millilitres of milk.

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Posted in Food, Self. 7 Comments »

7 Responses to “Of hats and hot water”

  1. Julie paradox Says:

    The hat looks cool!

    (I’ve worn a hat when outside practically every day since 1989, when I finally plucked up the courage to buy a beret.)

    Personally I think it would look *even* better just a tinsy bit further forward – showing slightly less of your fringe and shading the gap between eyes and sunglasses.

  2. Flesh-eating Dragon Says:

    Thanks – for my part, I experimented in front of a mirror and thought that it looked best as shown in the picture, tilted back with the front of the brim turned upward.

  3. John Cowan Says:

    As Asimov said, there are only two kinds of sensible hats: the Russian kind with furry ear-flaps to keep out the cold, and the Vietnamese kind with the big brim to keep off the rain. What sense it makes to trap a mass of hot air just above your skull I shall never understand.

    As for the test, anyone who would drink instant coffee when coffee beans, freezers, grinders, and manual filters are to be had has no business messing around with flavor tests anyway, for his sense of taste is hopelessly impaired.

  4. Flesh-eating Dragon Says:

    I’ve never understood the prejudice against instant coffee. Every time I’ve been served non-instant coffee at someone’s house I’ve found it a disappointment compared to decent old instant. Served professionally it can at best be just as good, but there’s no evidence that any type of coffee exists that is worth the extra effort.

  5. John Cowan Says:

    I repeat: hopelessly impaired.

  6. Julie paradox Says:

    It all depends on the instant, really.

    Kenco-style (gah! what do they call them?) little smooth flat pebbly things work ok. Granules – as in Nescafe – don’t. Powdered, such as Fairtrade stuff always used to be, is hideous.

    And you have to remember to pour the water on before it’s boiled, or put the milk in first.

    As to hats – well, it’s different in the Antipodes.

  7. Flesh-eating Dragon Says:

    I don’t agree that putting the milk in first or not makes any difference to the flavour, but I definitely agree with “powdered is hideous”. Got to be either granules (as in Nescafe) or those pebbly things (as in Moccona, and I think pebbles = freeze-dried).

    Coffee from the Riva brand has both granules and powder all mixed up, so of course you get the granules on top and the powder all sinks to the bottom of the jar where it waits in ambush. Definitely a brand to avoid, in my opinion.


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