the cut opinion pages

The Secret to Almost Being Okay With Being Awake

Photo: H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images

In the morning, there are many reasons to want to stay in bed. Nowhere else is as good, for one. Plus, your dog is there, and he’s sleeping so sweetly. People don’t direct message you on Slack when you’re in bed, unless you have your phone with you, but maybe your phone died in the middle of the night and your charger is out of reach. And isn’t that nice?

Knowing all of this, it might surprise you to learn that I’ve found a reason to want to get out of bed — a reason to exit the warm support of your mattress, pillows, and sleepy puppy, and enter into the dreary misfortune of everything else. It’s true, though; I have found that reason, and I’d like to share it with you. It isn’t purpose, or ambition, or love, luckily. This is not something you have to cultivate. You just have to buy it, for about $30. It’s a programmable coffee maker.

Ahh. Doesn’t that sound attainable?

In the years before I had a programmable coffee maker, I wanted a programmable coffee maker. When friends would talk about the various things they desired — expensive serums, new couches, or clothes — I’d say, “I really want one of those coffee makers that you can set the night before, so when you wake up you already have coffee.” (I also wanted all of those other things, plus a bunch more stuff.)

At some point a friend said, “Kelly … anybody can have a coffee maker like that for, like, $30.” It had never occurred to me to just buy one. Probably because it’s hard to get excited about purchasing “appliances,” even if you really want them because they will make your life perfect. In any case, I didn’t have to rouse myself to buy it, because after she told me I could buy one for like $30, my friend bought one for me as a gift.

The coffee maker just showed up at my house one day as if it had fallen from bean heaven, and it was perfect — an “extraordinary machine,” as Fiona Apple would say. An incredible gift from an incredible friend. She has done nothing less than change my life; I am forever indebted to her as you are now, to me, for telling you to also get one of these coffee makers, or to begin using the programmable function if you already own one.

Here is how it works. At night, I put in the coffee ingredients, which are: coffee, water. Then, I hit the button that sets the timer. My timer is set to 5:30 a.m., which is the time I generally aim to wake up, not that this particular bit of information is any of your business. I don’t usually wake up until 6:00 or 6:30 a..m., but the coffee maker, a handsome Mr. Coffee, keeps it warm for two hours. Then he turns off automatically, as he is very diligent about fire safety. It’s part of why I like him so much.

Knowing that coffee has already been brewed, and is just waiting in the kitchen, gives you a reason to get out of bed. (I know this sounds bleak, but it is not my job to be dishonest about the realities of life.) At the very least, the programmable coffee machine clears a morning hurdle on your behalf. At least you don’t have to make the coffee! Your past self already did that, and then it passed the baton to Mr. Coffee, and then he completed the task while you were asleep. I love him. Now you just have to go get a cup.

I think there are two issues with the programmable coffee maker, so I’ll address them together. The first is that some people don’t want their coffee grounds to get stale sitting in the machine overnight. I understand. Like anyone else who has had at least one conversation with a man, I own a burr grinder, and I love a cup of too-expensive coffee brewed with newly ground beans. But why not save this as a weekend treat? Or a never treat? You don’t really need it. Just get Café Bustelo and put it in your programmable coffee maker. It’s good, and if it goes stale I, personally, can’t really notice. Plus, it’s there for you, right when you wake up.

The next is the issue of remembering, or forcing yourself to gather the energy to, set the coffee up the night before. I’m not typically a person who can stick to anything, so it’s surprising to me that I have managed to do this every weeknight for a few months now. I think I’ve been able to only because I know how much joy I’ll experience by having coffee already made when I wake up the next morning. Here’s how I do it: When I look at the coffee maker and think “oh I should set that up,” I just do it right then. It only takes a minute, and then it’s done. (Another trick: I don’t do it on the weekend because it’s not as necessary then, and I don’t want to have to change the timer.)

God, it’s so amazing to wake up with the knowledge that your coffee has already been made. It’s little push, a little jolt, a little humane sparkle to jump-start your morning routine with ease. It’s helpful and I love it. I’m begging you to do it. Please. PLEASE! Get a programmable coffee maker, or just use the one you have.

My Best Friend Is $30 and Programmable