I got up late this morning, owing to a late night last night, and staggered around in a foul mood for a while, wondering if I had gotten up on the wrong side of the bed, when it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t had my coffee.
I hate to admit that I’m addicted to coffee, but I am. It’s my one real food vice, for even though I really enjoy just about anything edible or potable, coffee is the only thing I can barely do without. I realize that I have a monkey on my back, and every few years, I try to break the habit. In fact, I’ve been known to go for years at a time without. But I’ve always succumbed in the end, and I’ve finally resolved that I shall forevermore give up giving it up. It gives me immense pleasure, after all, and reports of its deleterious effects on one’s health were greatly exaggerated.
I’m even something of a connoisseur, these days, as discerning as a wine aficionado. I find I can even swish a little around, suck in a little air, and tell whether it’s an African or South American blend.
My parents were big coffee drinkers, but I wasn’t attracted in the least, until I was twenty-one and went to Europe with a girlfriend. We were there for a couple of months, but for the first three weeks, we took one of those “If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium” bus tours. We were rousted out of bed every morning at five, herded down to the hotel restaurant, and plied with pots of strong coffee and croissants. I resisted the coffee, at first, but by day 3 or 4, I succumbed to a big old hit of caffeine just to get my eyes open. By the time I got back to the U.S., I was hooked.
After I got out of college, I became an elementary school teacher. I had to be at work by seven, before the school busses started dropping off the kids. I found that an entire pot of coffee before setting out gave me the grit to handle the little darlings.
My grandmother boiled coffee in a tin pot on the stove. She often dropped a couple of eggshells in the pot after it came off the fire to settle the grounds. Her coffee was so strong it would corrode the spoon. My uncles teased her about it mercilessly. My mother, on the other hand, liked her coffee weak. She brewed it in a percolator, with just enough coffee to tint the water. Then she doctored it up with so much cream and sugar that it barely resembled coffee at all, in the end.
I like mine somewhere in between. I like a smooth, smokey blend, if I can get it, when I drink with meals. Between meals, I occasionally like a flavored coffee. Nut flavors are good, and I love a very strong vanilla. Irish cream will do, and chocolates are all right. Fruit flavors, not so much. I brew mine these days in a French press, which is handy, since I’m the only one in the house who drinks it.
And the grounds are great for the garden.