Why I ditched coffee for my cleaner

By Samantha Papesch

For most of my life, the allure of coffee has been strong.  As a freshly minted teenager I loved sharing a cup of instant with the grown ups.  The taste never actually appealed to me, but the conversation did, so my palette was quick to mature.

At 16 I was lucky to live in Europe and experience “kaffee and kuchen”, a German ritual involving rich cake and intense percolated coffee.  The combination was irresistible, and from then on I was hooked on both coffee, and travel.

Four years later I moved to London and spent the next four years backpacking around the world, sampling more beer than coffee, ranging from mild Belgian blends, to acrid Turkish brews.  When I finally landed in Sydney, Starbucks became my Mecca for a latte, and like millions of other people it became an intrinsic part of my day.

Since then, I’ve tried everything from ‘cat poo coffee’ (the world’s most expensive) to the cheapest capsule dingo dust. But, despite ingesting a few thousand cups over the years, my love for coffee is less about judging it, than the joy of its social ceremony.

Like my husband making the coffee run every morning; a display of love and affection that soon became our ‘daily dance’.  He wasn’t a coffee drinker, so it was more of a one-sided waltz, but he loved making me smile, and I adored him for doing it.

We did this day in, day out for years. Then, one day my husband was retrenched from his job and making cuts to luxuries became a necessity as we were forced to batten down the financial hatches.

It took more than 18 months to navigate out of those choppy waters, but despite the stress of inordinate frugality, we made a decision to keep the one luxury I couldn’t live without…

Our cleaner.

Yes, it was bitter-sweet, and I was concerned at becoming unhinged with the caffeine void, but I knew that repurposing this money would help keep the entire family on an even keel.  Why?  Because for 15 years we’ve hired a cleaner, and while coffee is a ritual I treasure, the benefits of outsourcing this task is a trove.

Like when my husband and I moved into our first apartment.  Instead of lamenting the loss of our weekends to a bucket and mop, we made the most of our freedom before the grind of another working week.

Then, when we had our babies, through the darkness of domesticity and sleep deprivation, it was the light that conquered any brewing resentment between us and equalised our roles.

And now, with the busyness of having school-aged kids, our free time is spent together doing the things we love.

Make no mistake, we still clean – mess happens.  But, cleaning is infinite; life is not, and if our overall happiness can be enriched by the sacrifice of one or two pleasures along the way, the choice for me, is ultimately simple.

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