My parents were coffee drinking lovers. After dinner, mom made a pot and brought Dad a cup. Most nights he stopped looking at the paper long enough to grin a "thank you". They drank it while we all watched TV. Commercials mirrored what I saw: Coffee made you happy, and offering someone a cup is like saying, "I love you."
I begged for a taste. "You won't like it." My father was right. I ran to the sink to spit it out. The nastiness lingered until I brushed my teeth and gargled. The way they drank their coffee personified their life: straight-up without frills. If a waitress asked if they needed cream or sugar they said, "No!" so emphatically, she apologized for asking. I questioned how they could drink it. "You get used to it." This form of self-torture made no sense.
My kids asked me the same question and my answer is equally senseless: I drink it to feel grown-up. It started in college. My friends ordered coffee with dessert and alternatives were unacceptable. Tea made me nauseous because mom fixed it when I was sick. Ordering soda made me feel childish at a time I wanted to appear mature. But my friends did not drink it like my parents did. Dumping in sugar made it possible to swallow, and after awhile, I got used to it.
"Sharon likes a little coffee with her sugar." My parents teased and said I wasn't a real coffee drinker. I accept the accusation. Last week a Starbucks guy was impressed that I purchased a small French Press and didn’t need him to grind my pound bag of Italian Roast. "You have your own grinder, cool" I ordered a Tall coffee and he asked if I needed room for cream. I shook my head. “Wow, a real coffee drinker.” For a moment I considered pretending, but I’m too old for such nonsense. “Not really, I take sugar.” He sighed.
Like the commercials, my morning begins with coffee. And like my mother, I make a pot in the evening and take a cup to my husband. I know that sounds like a throw-back to pre-feminism, but it has nothing to do with servitude. I prefer to get my own cup because he never makes it sweet enough, and I don't mind letting him know I still love him.
I went shopping for a new coffee pot yesterday. In looking up consumer reviews I found another reason to love it:
The French writer, Honore de Balzac, found it to be the cure for writer’s block: “This coffee falls into your stomach, and straightway there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move like the battalions of the Grand Army of the battlefield, and the battle takes place.”