Black coffee? I love it. Four parts creamer, one part coffee? I love it. Steamed milk latte with two shots of espresso? I love it. Super frilly caramel mocha chip nut gold dust macchiato frappuccino? I love it.
I come from a long line of coffee-loving women. My mom, her mom, all of her aunts, all of my aunts, and the myriad cousins I spent time with at my grandmother’s house loved coffee. When buying a coffeemaker, my Meme didn’t care about the quality of coffee it brewed or whatever bells and whistles it boasted. She looked for one thing: the speed at which it brewed coffee, because her household went through several pots a day.
Above her sink, in her kitchen, was a small shelf below the cabinets. The shelf held containers brimming with coffee, coffee filters, sugar, flour, and the Flintstones vitamins we grandkids always thought were such a treat. Whenever company arrived, the coffee filters, coffee, sugar, spoons, teacups, and saucers would come out. There was usually coffee cake, or pie, or cheesecake, or some sweet treat to complement the coffee.
Never fear–hers was not a fancy household. The ashtrays and cigarettes came out when company arrived, too, the lace curtains in the living room yellowed with nicotine and sunshine.
Nor was the style of coffee consumed fancy. Most of us liked our coffee “light and sweet,” or heavy on the cream and sugar. Meme preferred Folgers, sometimes Maxwell House, but never anything fancy or generic. She was quite middle-of-the-road.
I didn’t really develop a taste for coffee to rival my female relatives’ until I started my first job working at a small diner in high school. I started with dinner shifts but quickly worked my way up to breakfast shifts on the weekends, when I arrived at what seemed to me then the ungodly hour of 7:45. I’d squirt whipped cream into an empty coffee cup, pour granulated sugar on top, then add about two tablespoons of coffee to fill the cup.
Since then, my taste in java has evolved to allow me to drink black-as-the-night dark roast without an ounce of fat or sugar to adulterate the sweet nectar of life that is coffee. This morning, I enjoyed the last of my ground in-house holiday blend from Starbucks, and I was thankful for every sip.