There is something almost mystical about coffee that I don’t quite get. Apparently, some folks are like an old, tired and worn out Briggs engine that won’t start without a shot of ether.
“Don’t talk to me before I have my coffee.”
Really? Coffee is what makes you human and civil and tolerable?
We should be careful. My 5 year old granddaughter was staying with us over the holidays a few nights. She got up early with me one morning.
I told her, “You don’t look like you’re ready to get up.”
“I’m still asleep,” she says.
“But your eyes are open. You’re not asleep.”
“No. No Grandpa. Asleep like before you have your coffee.”
Wonder where she learned that?
My parents drank one cup of coffee with breakfast every morning that I can remember. It was Sanka instant coffee. We had a Sanka guy who delivered to the house on a regular route. Coffee. Tea. Other stuff I would guess.
Mama boiled loose tea leaves in an enamel pot on the stove. Poured the leaves into a piece of cloth to strain out the tea. But the coffee was instant. Dad always fussed at her for putting on a kettle of water first thing in the morning and letting it boil out before they were ready for coffee. She’d have to boil more water before they sat down at the table.
Green coffee mugs. The same mugs for decades. A small Corning Ware saucer, and a spoon. Dad always put one cube of ice in his cup. Stirred in cream and sugar. They both slurped loud enough to wake the dead. I can still hear the tinkling of the spoon against the cup and the slurping in my head.
I tasted their Sanka one time and almost gagged. It was awful. I swore that if this was coffee, I would never drink the stuff.
One of my early jobs was working in a greenhouse in Cartersville, GA. There was a Mr. Coffee pot on one end of the greenhouse. I was well into my twenties. It was cold. So, I poured a cup just to hold something warm. I tried the sugar and creamer, but it tasted to me like old socks smell. Over time I learned to drink it black and have never looked back.
I know people who are coffee snobs. I don’t mean to be rude. They know they are coffee snobs. It’s hard to believe that anyone could be a snob over coffee, but I can attest that these kinds of folks do exist. They come over to your house and turn up their noses at your coffee.
“We’re making a pot of coffee. You want some?”
“What kind is it?”
“No, really. Unless it’s fresh ground Arabica beans from Columbia’s Emerald Hill country, we’re just not interested.”
When did some southern born and bred people from Georgia get so sophisticated with their taste buds? Who decided that Folgers’ Medium Breakfast Blend is not good enough? And don’t get me started on Starbucks and that crowd with their Lattes and shots of Moca. They have taken coffee snobbery to the extreme.
Coffee is an acquired taste anyway. Nobody drinks their first cup and thinks, “Boy, this is the best thing I’ve ever tasted.”
I’ve been to mountains of Oaxaca several times. Southern Mexico. A three hour ride in the back of a worn out pickup truck up through winding mountain roads. Some of the edges so steep you close your eyes. In the village of Linda Vista they grow a lot of their own coffee. They slow boil it in a big pot with about 10 pounds of sugar and 5 pounds of sludge at the bottom of the pot.
They serve it in bowls. No cups with cute handles. Double-handful-sized bowls. Again, it’s an acquired taste. Coffee in the early morning. Coffee at mid-morning. Coffee at lunch. Coffee mid-afternoon. You get the idea.
For the first couple of nights our host brought us coffee at 10 at night. They were being gracious. We drank coffee and stared at the little holes in the tin roof all night long. By the fourth night, we were coffee Zombies. I told them in my best possible Spanish that we liked the coffee, but no more tonight. “Por favor.”
What they heard was: “Bring us buckets of coffee. We love it so much we want to drink our minds into oblivion.” We were in our shorts talking. About ready to turn in. A knock at the door. And there they were. Smiling. A 10 gallon pot of coffee that they had lugged along a narrow path up a steep hillside just for us. Bowls for everyone.
I have learned to be a plain-jane coffee drinker. It makes refills easy. Waffle House over Starbucks any day. I sometimes draw the line at gas station coffee that’s been on the burner since the Regan administration. But I have been known to reheat yesterday’s coffee in desperate times.
No Moca. No froth. No fancy peppermint creamer. Just coffee. I don’t need it to wake up. I don’t need it to function as a civil human being. But it sure helps make for a nice start to the day. Enjoy your coffee. Take a snob to Waffle House.