Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Cuppa Joe

"Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.".........Casablanca, 1942
Coffee changed my life.
Without the 10 cent bottomless pot of coffee and the all night hours at the Interstate Pancake House out on Business Loop 70, there might not have been the "beautiful friendship" that evolved into romance, a wedding, and now, nearly forty years of coffee in the morning, coffee on the road, coffee by firelight, coffee on the front porch....well, you get the picture.

The coffee at the Interstate Pancake House had two things going for it: it was hot and it was cheap.  The mugs were truck stop solid with a permanent caffeine ring in the bottom; the coffee was an odd combination of tasteless and bitter, so much so that we poured enough of the soybean gruel they served up for creamer to fill the cup to the brim.
Dating Blake made me a coffee drinker...after a fashion.  As a broke college student,  I bought the Safeway version of instant coffee and boiled water in the kettle. Taster's Choice was a splurge.  Starbucks may have been brewing for half a decade in Seattle, but the coffee at the Union at MU still tasted of styrofoam and the metal urns in which it boiled from 7 a.m. til closing time.
I'm pretty certain we received a Mr. Coffee brewer as a wedding present: Mr. Coffee had been around since 1974.  But the pot must not have been real durable; by the time we were living in the little house in the bottom, I had a real "old school" drip style tin coffeepot sitting on the burner in the morning, gurgling away until we finished the pot or the smell of burnt coffee drove me out of the kitchen.  As a means of coffee prep, it would never pass muster with the connoisseurs whose beverage must be prepared and served at a precise temperature.  The pot lacked the comforting and fragrant bubble and pop of a percolator, a sound and scent indelibly linked in my memory to church kitchens.  But...we had graduated to three pound cans of Folger's at that point, which made the brew smell like real coffee and not something brown reconstituted from space age freeze dried crystals.  We were mainstream; we were solid citizens, bacon and eggs for breakfast and a steaming cup of "the best part of waking up" with the Wall Street Journal on the side.
 "Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all.” ― David Lynch

So imagine my dismay, years later, when I purchased a blue can of Maxwell House coffee in  Nashville, ("good to the last drop..") in an attempt to serve the local grounds to some writers exploring the many facets of that great city, only to have my pot of coffee greeted with disdain by the East Coast opinion makers and consumers of the group.  What an uneducated naif, a tasteless provincial, a benighted primitive from the dark center of the continent!  After we got over the embarrassment, we succumbed to social pressure the next visit to a Barnes and Noble and waited in line for our first Starbucks coffee.

Anonymous Quote: “A cup of gourmet coffee shared with a friend is happiness tasted and time well spent.”

And thus ensued any number of pleasant hours in a short but golden era of bookstore browsing:  a hardcover for edification, some paperbacks for pleasure, a mocha or cappuccino to sweeten the scalding blackness of the brew and warm the drive home from the city.  Alas!  The bookstores are gone, replaced by browsing for titles at all hours day and night via Amazon and the featherlight medium of coursing photons.  While hard copies are rare, hot beverages have flourished, and we former consumers of Casey's go cups now search for coffee shops, not truck stops, as we travel.

Yes, after our penny pinching origins, Blake and I have joined the coffee aristocracy: a Bunn for full pots on Sunday mornings, a Keurig for late night cups of caf for Blake, and decaf or herb tea for me, a bright red grinder to create the strong brews we are partial to, and to entertain the grandkids while they "help" make a cuppa for their grandpa.  Finally, a SECOND Cardinal Red Keurig at the greenhouse for Blake's birthday: he's not the easiest person to buy for, but this gift is a winner.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) said, “If you want to improve your understanding, drink coffee; it is the intelligent beverage.”

It was Sir James Mackintosh who said that, “The powers of a man’s mind are directly proportioned to the quantity of coffee he drinks.”
Black for breakfast.... or after supper.  In a combine .....or in a china cup. From contemplation to conversation, relaxation to reflection, coffee has been a thread weaving together the fabric of our life.

Flash Rosenberg wrote that, “I believe humans get a lot done, not because we’re smart, but because we have thumbs so we can make coffee.

1 comment:

  1. I am a non coffee drinker, and I loved reading your post! lol! Thanks for sharing your life with us over at country fair blog party!