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AMY KIRK: Grounds for survival: Coffee makes the worst days better

Amy Kirk, Daily Republic columnist  If someone asked me the age-old question “What’s the one thing you would want if you were stranded on an island?” My answer would be simple: COFFEE. If I were allowed three things, then multiply my coffee answer times three.

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I say coffee because if I were marooned on an island, rather than feel despondent about the grim outlook of possibly not being found, I would look forward to having coffee to brew, smell and savor the next morning, which starts out any day right. As long as I had coffee, that’s all I would need to survive days, months or years stuck on an island. Any cleaned-out coconut shell would easily suffice as a travel or ceramic coffee mug to simulate carrying around my coffee at home.

Coffee has already helped me survive a plentitude of rough days dealing with livestock, their water, ranch equipment and occasionally grumpy family members. At the realization of possibly never being found, a human has to adapt and figure out how to keep themselves alive through motivation, energy, and positive thinking.

In spite of such circumstances, I would have a reason to get myself up every morning — to have that first taste of coffee at the beginning of the day. That is where my motivation would come from to get up and face another day stranded on an island.

The thought of having freshly brewed, hot coffee currently does that for me every morning for circumstances much worse — cow checking, water-hauling and Mondays. I’ve always been able to turn a bad morning around with another pot of coffee once I returned to the house, where the morning’s mayhem can be decompressed.

Another thing that the marooned need to survive is developing a daily routine: scratching another day on the cave wall, gathering wood for fire-making, collecting fresh water, spearing fish and making coffee. Coffee is full of antioxidants and keeps my digestive system on a regular pattern and would fit right in with stranded-on-an-island daily routines.

Patience is an important skill needed for a stranded person. On an island, patience is paramount in getting fire from the friction of rubbing sticks together, waiting for fresh rain to collect or getting rescued. I would fare well because the process of making coffee at home teaches me a lot of patience. Making coffee also kills a lot of time especially when I’m waiting for it, forcing me to be patient. Waiting for coffee to brew is similar to waiting to be rescued. Plus, if all I had were coffee beans I could kill even more time waiting to be rescued by hand-grinding them.

Equally important to survival is having energy. The caffeine in coffee provides that and would make island mornings productive before the day turned hot.

Coffee also goes well with any food. If I was forced to eat some disgusting food in order to survive I could always wash it down with good java. Coffee doesn’t need anything to mask its taste; black is perfect. Unlike getting burned out on a diet of shellfish or coconuts every single day, I would never tire of having coffee.

If the island I were to be stranded on didn’t have coffee, well, then I would want to be stuck on a different island.

— Amy Kirk and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth-generation cow/calf operation near Pringle. She blogs at