My mum’s coffee always felt dangerous. When I was at my parents’, I knew that coffee time was approaching when I started sweating spontaneously and my heart rate suddenly went nuclear for no apparent reason at all. I suggested a few times that it was so strong that it might one day kill me, but she always replied with an incredulous Mais tu plaisantes ? C’est du jus de chaussette ! (Are you kidding? It’s sock juice!)
I suspect my mum thought her coffee was weak because she compared it to her older sister’s, to which I owed several out-of-body experiences. We had this discussion so many times, and jus de chaussette is so familiar to me, that I’ve never even thought of questioning it, until I had to translate an article on the effects of caffeine on performance. During my research, I found a neat little explanation for it:
During the 1870 war, soldiers had no equipment to make coffee, so they had to improvise: coffee beans were poured in a big iron vat or bowl, soldiers crushed it with their rifle butts. They boiled water in a pot, threw the crushed beans in it, took the pot off the boil and filtered its contents through a sock.
This is how I learnt that jus de chaussette isn’t synonymous with weak coffee, but rather with bad coffee. It doesn’t really matter anyway: in my parents’ house, a flashy new espresso machine now produces perfect coffee, every time.
I miss sock juice.
Coffee photo by Rog01