There were dew drops on everything, the birds were chirping, and I was grinding coffee beans in the garage.

There were dew drops on everything, the birds were chirping, and I was grinding coffee beans in the garage.

I do this on occasion when I am the first one awake and don't want to disturb anyone. In this house, we don't mess around when it comes to coffee.

Usually, my wife and daughters are up before I am, so the sound of beans grinding is my cue to stop "snoozing" the alarm. But sometimes I am awake before all of them. And first thing, the coffee gets made, even if I have to grind the beans in the garage.

A good cup of coffee is a necessity of parenthood. My wife and I prefer a French press, because it makes a cup of coffee so strong and dark that if it were in space, it would eat planets. 

The garage, I figure, muffles the noise so it doesn't wake anybody up. So, at the plug on the wall above the miter saw and tiny scraps of wood, I plugged in the comically short cord.

After a tense 10 seconds of grinding, I opened the door expecting to find my daughter, known for her comedic timing, to be standing there. But she wasn't, just two cats curious about the monster in the garage. I opened the grinder and knelt down to let them smell it. They backed away quickly. If the coffee scares kittens, you know it's the good stuff.

I returned to the kitchen just in time to pull the kettle off the stove before it started to whistle, a move on par with stopping the microwave with one second left to avoid the beep. I moved across the kitchen, clumsily stepping on only the loudest creaks in the wood floor and mixed a little bit of water with the coffee first, then I filled up the press and put on the lid. The house was quiet and still.

"What does coffee taste like?" my 3-year-old once asked me one Saturday.

"It's hard to describe," I said. "But you would not like it."

Her older sister chimed in that she would probably enjoy coffee. So, when I ground the beans, I had them smell it.

"What's it smell like?" I asked.

"Stinky, stinky," my 6-year-old said.

"Poop," my 3-year-old decided. Neither wanted to try it anymore.

Milkshakes, my daughter declared, would be a better drink to start your day off right. I could not disagree. But we aren't trading the press for a milkshake maker anytime soon.

I wouldn't say I'm a coffee snob. I won't turn away a cup from the gas station or church basement, and I even drink the hot, brown water that's been warming in the newsroom for 30 years.

But I've found that living a happy life often involves taking pride in little things. Instead of being a chore, making coffee in our house is an act of craftsmanship.

It's something nice my wife and I can do for each other every day. It just tastes better that way.

Reach Dave at or 330-580-8490.

On Twitter: @DaveManley