As a child, I can’t say I ever cared much about coffee. It was my mother’s drink of choice. I didn’t think about if I would like coffee or even have any desire to try it. My mother would sit in the recliner, in a collapsed, depleted sort of way, and say, “Oh, honey, would you please go make me a cup of coffee?” Then she would yell the instructions on heating a cup of water in the microwave, then after I retrieved the instant Nescafe or Sanka from the skinny cupboard beside the stove, she would instruct me on how much to stir in. The finishing touch was to add what my mother called, “a glug” of milk. A “glug” was a measurement that was judged by the ear rather than the eye, the sound of the liquid leaving a large container and being replaced by air.
Instant coffee always seemed to have a scent that didn’t please my nose, so I would breathe it in, just to smell how bad it did smell. I would present my mother with her coffee to which she would take a sip and then seem to sink deeper into the chair with complete relaxation and pleasure. She did the same, though, with a glass of very cold water, so I never took it as a compliment to my coffee making skills. More, I thought of it as her way of appreciating the service.
At the age of eighteen, I married a controlling abusive “man”. Each morning, as he lay in bed and I readied for work, he would tell me, “Get me a cup of coffee.” As the dutiful little wife, trying to succeed in this new role, I would scamper into the kitchen and heat his water in the microwave, carefully measure the instant coffee into the steaming water, then stir. There was no “glug” with him, but he wanted it stirred and stirred till the ringing of the spoon against the ceramic of the mug rang a distinct high note. If I did not reach that high note, I was reprimanded in a violent, demeaning tone of voice. Coffee making became a point of tension and pressure to perform, which I always seemed to fail at.
My first husband’s mother got me a job in the bookkeeping department at the local 1st National Bank. I suppose she felt I was the more likely of us (her son and me) to not disappoint her or embarrass her for having asked the favor of her friend, the bank president.
I liked my job there. It was my first job not being of service to someone. So far my job history had consisted of waitressing and cashiering. Now I had a job that used my brain for more than just pleasing others.
My boss, Beatrice, head of the Bookkeeping Department, loved coffee and cigarettes. She had red hair and a husky voice much larger than her petite frame. She told lewd jokes, which I always remembered better than the clean ones, and she loved me. As a teenager working in a pizza place, I had already picked up the cigarette habit, but now I decided that if Bea liked coffee, and it seemed to go well with her cigarettes – which she smoked freely at her desk – I might try it. I was advised to start adjusting to the taste by adding cream and sugar, which I thought was a wonderful idea. I loved creamy flavors and textures, and sugar, well, sugar was my favorite. As time went by, I backed off the sugar, as it always left me more thirsty. Besides, which, I was always working on losing weight. The creamer I kept; I like the beige better than the dark, although in desperate times of calorie decreasing, I have even drank it black.
During the majority of my years of child raising, coffee was just something to drink for breakfast and didn’t really hold much significance in my life. When I worked at a local paper printing company, I found myself in charge of making coffee for whomever would come along needing Joe’s help in staying awake at their computer. The coffee was in huge cans and the smell, as it brewed in the drip coffee maker, seemed acid to my nose. I drank it, though, like medicine.
Again, when I held a job as an office manager at a real estate and appraisal company, I made the office coffee. Now coffee was sold in large plastic cans. It had the same smell as the paper company’s coffee, but it was worse. Worse, because something else had transpired in my life. My daughter had gone off to college, and are you ready for this? She got herself a part-time job at Starbucks.
Starbucks is a great company to work for. They treat their help well. My daughter loved her job; the creativity, the lovely aroma that filled the air, the clean bathroom, the familiarity of the people that frequented the place daily for their fix, and the access to the wonderful coffee in all its wondrous glory. Her world of coffee opened up to countries of growth and the effect of that upon the coffee bean and its flavor. She became a connoisseur, and in turn, my coffee teacher.
One of the greatest benefits for me was that each week, she was given a pound of coffee to take home. Well, since she worked where the coffee was brewed and sold, and lived in a dorm, she didn’t need all that coffee. So yes, you guessed it, I got the coffee!! Every time she came home for a visit, it was like Christmas. My daughter came home (gift number 1), and she came bearing free, delicious coffee (gift number 2). Each beautiful bag contained my new obsession. I loved the way some of the bags were decorated with art, and the smell that filled the room, as I broke the seal, releasing the gloriously, rich aroma. It was nothing like the plastic can coffee from the grocery, and I became a coffee snob. My daughter taught me how to measure the coffee, which at first seemed a bit excessive, but with a little adjustment of my own, I found the bold pleasure I had been seeking.
My daughter has long since graduated from college and moved on in her career, but she and I both miss those days – each of us for different reasons, and some the same. I am now known for my “good” coffee, and my youngest son has become a coffee addict just like me. Hey, I don’t see this as a flaw. There may not be a Starbucks in our little town, but the local grocery store sells bags of it, and its better to be addicted to coffee than heroin. I think I will go make a pot.