One of my habits, if you will, is that most days when I come home from work, regardless of how early or late in the day, I pour what is left of the coffee in the pot from the morning into a mug with some Half-n-Half in it and microwave it for one minute and 21 seconds. I am one of those people for whom coffee is much more than a hot beverage. I have been reheating the coffee from the morning’s pot for all of my adult life. I fell in love with coffee at 18 years old, I was working full-time and also in college and found that afternoon coffee made night-time classes much easier. I later learned that afternoon coffee, as well as coffee on the drive to class, and in between classes in the cafeteria or social areas of both campuses I attended, made me more alert in class and the drive home much less tiresome.
When I write that it is my drug of choice, it is true. I was after all a teenager in the 80’s and there were lots and lots of drugs, and as an adult for whom the excitement of trying new things is long over, the comfort of a cup of coffee, no matter the time of day, is something of an expected high, an anticipated pleasure that for me is not easy to describe. A couple of weeks ago I went to vote after work and as I left the town hall to get in my truck I noted that my head was pounding, and so before I went home I went to WaWa, and as I poured slightly less than 16 ounces of coffee into a paper cup, just the aroma and the KNOWING I was about to sip it, made my headache completely go away. It got me thinking, I wonder if there is a way that junkies could get that high from the anticipation and the knowing, that could keep them from getting dope sick, but some sort of placebo to get them off drugs…I was thinking that my mental joy of drinking coffee when I feel I NEED it, is almost equal to that of the actual joy of drinking it, my body and my brain respond before the real stimulus is presented. But I digress… this is not a blog about drugs it is about how much I love coffee and the ridiculously excessive amount of it that I consume, which is apparently how my present boyfriend sees it.
Ten years ago I was involved with a brilliant hippie scientist and one winter we got it in our heads that we would start roasting our own beans. We bought green beans from a few different companies, one of which, I swear to god, was called -coffee is my drug of choice.com- and we read a lot about how to roast beans. We googled information and went on coffee roasting forums, we borrowed books from the library, we asked questions, we were really excited to try this, new to us, and as old as time to others, way of preparing coffee. We experimented with a number of different techniques and after many successes and several failures, “these beans smell like feet!” was in fact a very bad roast, we found that a 12 inch cast iron old skillet and a wooden wok tool worked the best and for almost a year, we did not buy coffee that was not green and in the form of an itty bitty bean and delivered to the door by UPS. We developed noses and mouths much like a sommelier, we began to be able to taste and smell the difference between a Costa Rican peaberry and an Ethiopian harrar, and it was a process and an act that stimulated all the senses…listening for the first pop, seeing the beans double in size, turning and turning and turning the beans so they did not burn, smelling the grassiness as the second pop occurs and the oils start to come to the surface of the bean, and then of course, after a full day of aerating, and a burr mill grinding, the first taste…ah…
Yesterday after work as I started my -microwaving the mug ritual- my boyfriend asked me, “why do you drink so much coffee?” and it was not accusatory in tone or condescending, it was quite matter-of-fact, I think he simply wondered what it was about coffee that I drink it so often, but I think I must have looked at him like he had three heads and tentacles for arms because his next question was, with wide eyes and sort of backing up from me, “what??!!” …and I realized that it was almost impossible to explain to a person for whom coffee does nothing and means nothing. In those minutes I was sipping last night while he was in the shower I started thinking about how many relationships, friendships, and acquaintances in my life started with coffee…how many times in college I started up wonderfully interesting and once in a life time conversations with someone because we were sitting at a shared table and I said something like, “good lord the coffee is delicious today,” and how many first dates, and last dates were had with cups of coffee and deep thoughtful talk…I realized that drinking coffee is as much a part of my adult life as just about anything else, and I grew up in a house where neither of my parents drank it, ever…it’s the most constant thing I have done in 29 years…I have started and ended many relationships, had hair every length and every color and cut imaginable, had nice clothes and dirty paint clothes, had retail jobs, a corporate job, my own small business, college classes and taught classes (during that briefly confusing year when my mother convinced me I would make a good teacher) raised a child and now love her children, and lived in 9 different houses, but the one thing that has not ever changed is my love of coffee…and now it is time to go downstairs and refill this mug, this brown stoneware mug, of which I have two, that were a wedding gift given to my parents, that as far as I know, during the time they were possessed by my parents, never once held piping hot, intensely strong, morning coffee.