Coffee Chat

Do you remember your first cup of coffee ever?

I had my first cup a month shy of my 16th birthday. I was a counselor at a summer camp and the mess hall cooks always made gallons of it in the morning and at lunch. They knew all the counselors needed this elixir to keep going after late night revelries. We all found ourselves returning to the coffee urns with our teacups a multiple of times each meal. Being the youngest of the group and a novice with this morning ritual, I added cream and sugar to mine. I can still remember the rich sweet taste of it and how grown up I felt drinking it. 

I was 18 when my mom finally relented and let me have coffee at home with my breakfast. That was after my dad piped in and suggested he wouldn’t mind having a cup now and then. Mom went out and bought us some freeze-dried coffee. She reserved the use of the percolator for when we had company. The day I moved out to live on my own was the last time I ever drank an instant brew. 

The enjoyment of coffee is something I shared with my dad. I bought him arabica beans from a gourmet coffee shop next to where I worked and taught him how to prepare it with drip filters. His eyes would light up every time I popped in for a visit and he’d rush into the kitchen to prepare us both a cup. But honestly, we had some of our best conversations sitting in a bustling coffee shop. It was always my dad’s treat.    

Nowadays, my favorite time to drink my untainted coffee is in the mornings. Wearing my plush housecoat, I snuggle in my comfy chair, a throw wrapped around my knees. I leisurely sip from my mug while watching the gulls soar over the bay, the amber sunlight coating their wings with a silver sheen.    

I can’t imagine eating the cherry-like coffee fruit, although that is how it was first consumed. According to legend, around 850 AD a lonely Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi watched his goats frolic around after eating from the coffee bushes in the fields. He started eating the yields from the shrubs at night to keep him awake and alert while guarding his flock. 

In due course, others began consuming it as well. Early adopters prepared a brew soaking the whole fruit in hot water. Some created snack bars by mixing the fruit with animal fat. And there were those who fermented the pulp to make a wine-like cocktail. I can’t imagine what that tasted like. It wasn’t until the 13th century that the beans were roasted, and the 15th century when they were finally ground before use.   

Today the coffee industry is much like the wine industry: artfully complex. That refreshing cup of morning joe is dependent not only on the bean’s varietal, but also on where it was grown, how it was picked, milled and roasted. The type of grind and preparation technique continues to shape the flavor. And then there are all the coffee enhancers we add to customize the concoction for our palates. 

Our ultimate perception of whether that brew is perfect or not is dependent on a collection of intangible factors like our genetics, cultural backgrounds, where we are while consuming it, who we are with and how we feel. I have taste preferences for sure, but what makes the cup of coffee perfect for me is the experience I’m having while drinking it.

11 thoughts on “Coffee Chat

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  1. I drink coffee very rarely, but a good friend of mine is somewhat of an addict. We don’t meet all that often due to living on different continents, but when we do, we grab a coffee and I get to hear all about it. Most people don’t really pay attention to all the nuances of the flavor. Like you said – it matters where the beans are from, how they were roasted, how the coffee was brewed, etc.

    I knew about the history of coffee beans and I wonder how people made the leap from eating the berries to roasting the beans.

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    1. What a great coffee experience – and because you don’t meet often, those coffee meet-ups with your friend are special. I am not a coffee connoisseur, but I don’t drink just any coffee either. What surprised me was how long it took for people to go from using the fruit in different ways to roasting the beans to make coffee. I’m sure all we can do is theorize a reason for it – your guess being as good as mine. Thanks for dropping in. I enjoyed our chat.

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  2. I believe my first taste of coffee was akin to my first taste of beer – both were in childhood and I thought both were atrocious. I didn’t develop a desire to drink coffee until college; and even then, my caffeine drug of choice for late-night studying or early-morning wake up was Diet Pepsi. It wasn’t until my early 30s until I bought my first coffee machine and some “good” coffee. Before then I’d grown up with my mom who often used instant, or those huge urns of coffee in the cafeterias where the coffee was dark and acidic and I was young enough to not yet burn ulcers into my stomach. Since my first coffee machine, I have purchased a few different types – drip, purcolators, french press – but I always go back to the 1-cup pour-over technique. Oh look, there’s a cup waiting for me on the counter right now. Thanks for bringing up all the coffee memories!

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    1. I remember the coffee makers in the offices and they would just let the pot sit on the heater so what you got was was a dark, acidic, bitter and burnt flavor. Ugh! Funny, I too use the 1-cup-pour-over for my coffee a lot and when I used to travel, I’d take my coffee, dripper and filters with me. Cheers!

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    1. Hi Dor, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. My Hubby was off coffee for years. He missed it. He recently started drinking a small cup of decaffeinated in the mornings. It’s enough; he no longer misses it.

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  3. I love the sound of your morning coffee. What’s not to enjoy with a scene like that.
    I’m impressed by your ability to recall your first cup of coffee. How detailed and obviously important was that. I certainly don’t remember mine, though we had instant at home while I was growing up.
    I don’t always have coffee during the day. Sometimes I’ll make myself an instant after lunch, but I’ll always have one in the evening with Hub (he makes it).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Norah. Wow, you’re someone who can drink coffee in the afternoon and evening. These days, my cups are limited to the mornings, or I’ll be sure to have a restless night. I love your tradition of your Hub making you a cup in the evenings. I can just picture the two of you sharing a cup and chatting. Lovely.

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