When you hit your middle age years, like I have, you start to take things for granted. One of those things happens to be hot coffee. I like my coffee hot even though I’ve consumed iced coffee on many occasions. In Japan, iced coffee is way more popular than it is in the US, or just about anywhere else. In the US, however, hot coffee is preferred by the average coffee. Keeping coffee hot can be a challenge, depending on what you use to make it and where you intend to drink it.
A thermos is not necessarily a Thermos
The first vacuum flasks were made by the Thermos Company in Germany in 1904. Over the years, the word “thermos” became a generic word to mean any kind of vacuum flask. In fact, the US declared it as a generic trademark in 1963 and now the word can be used alone or as “thermos bottle” and it means the same thing.
I thought it was a just an American thing, like so many things I’ve become accustomed to since I was a child. For instance, when I was a kid, my siblings called every kind of soft drink a “Coke” because Coca-Cola was the most popular brand at the time. One of my older brothers would send me to the neighborhood market to buy him a Coke and I would have to ask him “What kind of Coke?” because he didn’t always mean Coca-Cola.
My in-laws here in the Philippines share the same hot water dispenser, from my mother-in-law’s house. Trekking back and forth to her house can be a pain, so they don’t do it often. One day, one of my brothers-in-law came out of his house with a hot cup of coffee and I knew he hadn’t been to her house in hours. I asked him how he was keeping his water hot and he told me he was keeping it in a thermos. Obviously, thermos has become a generic word in the Philippines as well as the US.
How a thermos is used
Despite what you may think, I’m not talking about how to add and remove beverages from a thermos. I’m talking about how they’re used in certain environments, based on what I’ve seen.
When I was young, I saw my father packing a thermos in his metallic lunch box before heading off to work each day. It was kind of vacuum flask that had a screw-in stopper that was covered by pop-on/pop-off metal cup. The thermos had a metal exterior as well. Nowadays, you can find a thermos made of mostly plastic.
When I was in the military and went to certain functions (where a conference table came into play) as well as after the military and working for various companies, multiple thermos bottles were kept nearby in order for hot coffee to be available at all times and without having a coffee maker in the room as well. Some of these functions took place in rooms where it wouldn’t be a good idea to have a coffee maker area set aside. Rooms with computer equipment, for example.
Using a thermos can save you money
I don’t have a thermos bottle yet, but I plan to get a large one. A hot water dispenser uses a lot of electricity due to the heating coil involved. Maybe not as much as a hot water heater, but still more than I like to pay. If I just want hot water, it would be so much more economical to boil water or make hot water through a coffee maker than to use a hot water dispenser. A thermos can keep hot water hot or hot coffee hot for up to eight hours, but by the 8-hour mark, it’s usually just a little warmer than lukewarm. That’s still better than cold, especially in a cold environment.
I wouldn’t be storing hot water in a thermos. It makes more sense to store hot coffee in the thermos unless I’m intent on drinking instant coffee and that doesn’t work well unless I’m in the house. I sometimes spend a few hours outdoors with relatives, in the early morning hours after daylight appears. Having a thermos nearby would keep me from having to go back and forth from the house for refills because I usually drink two or three cups of coffee during that part of the day.
I definitely need a thermos.
[Originally published in October, 2009]