Fantastic Insurance against a Day Being Totally Bad

I got coffee for Christmas. It’s several shades lighter and brighter than my usual brew. It’s tasty, but different.

I was in my mid-twenties before I knew I liked coffee. Be still my heart, well, almost literally, yeah, I know. I made this discovery thanks to my boyfriend Peter who gave me a cup of Medaglio d’Oro. Another schoolmate had introduced me to espresso a few months earlier, but it didn’t “catch.” Too many rules. “Rub the lemon on the side of the cup, put in sugar, stir.” C’mon, seriously? NOT my coffee style. It is SOME peoples’ coffee style, and I’m not dissing them, but not mine.

And, then, coffee houses of the 1970s were a different thing from today. Muddy Waters of the Platte and Cafe Nepenthes furthered my interest in this magical liquid.

One of my cousins in Oregon introduced me to the principle of grinding my own coffee and THAT was another door to amazement opened to me.

Another boyfriend went to Guatemala to climb and study Spanish and brought back five pounds of raw Guatemalan beans for me to roast myself. I did, too. THAT was fantastic.

My family was made up of coffee drinkers — the all-day kind of coffee drinkers. As my sophistication level deepened, I realized they were drinking brown water.

The dean of my department in China gave me a very special gift of Hainan Coffee in one of the surreptitious, sweet and secret moments in China. He had stored it in the back of his cabinet until I got there and then, one morning, gestured to me to come into his office, “I have something for you.” It was wrapped –as many other things were in China at the time — in newspaper tied with pink string. “It’s coffee, real coffee, from Hainan island. There is no coffee like it. It is not like American coffee. You will see.”

All of that was absolutely true and it became a constant quest for more while I was in China. I had no proper coffee maker in China, so I adapted a tea pot into a drip coffee maker by lining the tea strainer with weishengzhi (toilet paper) as a filter to hold the boiling water in long enough to make a decent brew. It wasn’t bad at all.

In San Diego, we rented one of our cars (we had 3, don’t ask me why…) to an Italian student to use for the term. When the term was over, his father came to travel around with him. They brought the car back with a gift — a Bialetti. I got careful instructions on how to use it and the rest is history.

My international students all knew I loved coffee and I was privileged to drink Arabic green coffee several times, poured from a dallah. I liked it so much that when one of my students left America, he gave me a gift: a small gold dallah on a gold chain.

Time passed as time does and there I was in Milan at a coffee kiosk near the Duomo. In front of me was a young Korean woman. The young woman’s spoken English was about like my Italian — it will work but nothing really interesting is going to emerge. The young man working there didn’t speak English OR Korean. He was trying to tell her what to pay. He looked at me, pleading. I’d bought coffee from him many times, so he knew I would be able, at least, to translate to English. I nodded. It was in the pre-Euro days so it was a couple thousand lire. For that small effort I walked away with a free espresso and a bottle of mineral water.

The coffee I was given for Christmas is Italian coffee — Lavazza. It’s delicious and, to prove it, my cup is now empty, and Teddy has cleaned the sides. Time to return to gainful employment.

Oh the coffee I usually drink?

“Dark and moody blend, just like those who drink it!”

30 thoughts on “Fantastic Insurance against a Day Being Totally Bad

  1. I’ve been drinking coffee since I was 2 years old. I guess I was demanding what everyone else was drinking. Mine was mostly milk though. In those days and into my adult years it was instant coffee. I eventually graduated to perked. When you have a woodstove, what else would you do?? When I moved and no longer had the wood stove I started drinking drip. I love either. I drink 454 Horsepower roasted by Kicking Horse Coffee. Just finished a cup with eggnog to sweeten…yum!

    • I should have written in my post that my first sentence was “cuppa coffee” — I forgot that. No one gave me one. And yeah; with a wood stove? What else would you do? That’s one thing I love about my Bialetti. If heat then coffee. If the power is out in the morning I can make coffee over sterno or with my little wood-burning camping stove.

      • Giving me that coffee at 2 led to a life long addiction! I have dramatically reduced my coffee intake to one a day, unless I’m on holiday then I may have two!
        Yes, I have the back up plan too, perking a cup on the camp stove!

        • 🤣 My cup is I think around 10 oz. I use a 6 cup Bialetti which is six of those tiny espresso cups. I also use real cream. And that’s it. And, if any doctor ever tells me “You have to quit drinking coffee” I’ll say, “Pry it out of my cold, dead, hands.”

  2. In my early 20’s, my friends and I used to drink tea. I’m not sure how or when I got started drinking coffee…strange because I have always been a fan of coffee ice cream. I used to love coffee yogurt, too. Now, it’s coffee–black, please. Nice and strong. Very strong.

  3. I still have the ancient cafetera’s that my parents used when I was a child. They also used a long flannel-like sleeve for making coffee, but I never became an aficionado of the method.
    I’m not a coffee purist, but think that there is something terribly wrong with instant or Dunkins.

    • There are so many tools for making the various Italian coffees — I love my Bialetti cafetera and for a while I had an old one with the pitcher for making foam for cappuccino, but I didn’t make, ever. I don’t know what happened to it. For me that coffee maker is more than just a coffee maker. It’s an Italian family I belonged to for a while and loved. 🙂

  4. I once had a patient who insisted I buy green coffee and roast it myself. It’s not enough to be freshly-ground, it should be freshly-roasted. I still don’t do that. Too many out there who do it better than I would. We did once roast fresh beans in a cast iron skillet over a wood fire in a stone stove in Nicaragua. I’d say they were more burned than roasted, and not very evenly. My patient wanted to give me a French press pot. I told him I was not allowed to accept gifts. Since he couldn’t get out of bed, he asked if I would pick it up off the counter on my way out and “throw it away” for him.

  5. I love this story of coffee. I however am on the outside looking in. Coffee is not a flavor I like and I have tried! Sparky however is very addicted. He has his French press, a dripolator (actually it is mine that my grandmother used), an electric percolator that was a shower gift from my mother, a Mr. Coffee that brews something like 20 cups (that he had in his office), and his Keurig. Currently he is grinding his own beans and I’m not even going to tell him that roasting beans is even an option!!

  6. It is funny as I always liked the taste of coffee but didn’t really start drinking until the last few years. Maybe it was the worry about coffee breath. Anywho, I blame my trip to Spain and our café stops for my current habit!

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