Instant crappy; how I survived three months of coffee purgatory on the island

I asked Michael if he’d consider sharing his experience, and to my delight he acquiesced!  You are in for a treat. The topic he shares on is dear to my heart, partly because I had the same experience on the same island a few years before.  Enjoy =)


By Michael Ehrenberg

I’m going to share with you something deep, something from the heart- one of the most difficult and traumatic periods of my life. In fact it’s only now, years after the event, that I feel able to talk about it.

In the summer of 2012, I embarked on what I thought would be the most exciting 3 months of my life to date. I was going to live on a remote island off the coast of Auckland, New Zealand to spend some time growing in relationship with God. I thought I was mentally prepared for the challenges of island life, but there was one thing I could not have prepared myself for.

Instant Coffee.

I’ve heard it described as hell in a cup, and frankly this is apt. This foul brown sewage runoff shouldn’t really be considered coffee at all in my opinion. But for those 3 months, this was all that was available to me without making a 2 hour walk. Some might suggest that I would have been better off to abstain completely, but unfortunately that was not an option. I was given a choice between horrific withdrawal symptoms and drinking a daily dose of poison, and I chose the poison.

Every morning I would wake up, and enjoy a few brief seconds of happiness before I remembered where I was, and the sadness and depression set in. I would trudge down the stairs and pour myself a cup of the foul brown liquid, the only hope I had of meeting my daily caffeine intake requirements.

It wasn’t until I was put on breakfast duty that I discovered the true cause of this horrific situation. Nothing could have prepared me for what I witnessed in the kitchen. I walked in the door to find the coffee pots from the previous day being emptied into a large saucepan and heated over a flame. 10621789_10152375030342875_2117375117_nCoffee which had been left sitting out overnight. Coffee which may have been literally weeks old, reheated and left to sit again and again. Occasionally they would add more water and “coffee” powder to this ungodly brew to give an illusion of freshness. I could barely choke back the vomit.

I staggered out of the room in a daze, my head was spinning. In shock I passed through the dining area, fellow students asked me if I was ok, but their voices were but distant echoes.

I sat alone for what must have been hours, contemplating what events in my life had led me to this point. And then I got up, walked to the serving table, and poured myself another cup 😉

Note from the thesingleside:

Michael is an excellent writer and his tastes involve more  than his experiences of bad coffee =) To read a wider range of his musings, check out: