When I was growing up in the ’60s coffee had a bad rep. As kids we were told that if we drank coffee our growth would be stunted. But I knew kids who drank coffee and they didn’t seem any more stunted than I was. My first experience with coffee was very similar to my first experience with beer. They both tasted like crap, even though in coffee’s defense, coffee did smell great just tasted horrid.
Now keep in mind I’m talking the ’60s. Starbucks wasn’t even a glimmer in anyone’s eye. You had your choice of Folgers and other named coffees like Maxwell House and if you grew up in the ’60s who could forget Juan Valdez and his Columbian coffee. Which in the ’70s and ’80s got a bit confusing when people started talking about Peruvian marching powder.
In my house my mom drank coffee. I think she kept her addiction under control with a one-two cup a day limit. And then not even everyday. My dad drank it occasionally even less frequently than my mom, he was more of a tea drinker. Us kids were never offered—remember stunted growth—any coffee until we’d hit our upper teens. I couldn’t figure out how coffee could smell so great but taste like ass.
When I was older and out in the real world working my dream job, I was working the over-night at the radio station when an aroma enticed me to the kitchen area. That scent was the coffee pot the other DJ had made to keep him awake. Keeping awake during the overnight wasn’t something I needed help with but the delicious smell emanating from that coffee pot broke through my defiance of “everybody likes it”. I gallantly poured a half cup (didn’t want to deprive the other DJ if I didn’t like it) and blew the steam away. With a tentative sip of the still hot beverage, it was a good thing I was standing next to the kitchen sink as I spit the utterly ghastly liquid into the sink.
“Oh my god. How could anyone drink this crap?” That thought rattled around my brain and I grabbed the only other available drink to wash the taste from my mouth. The funny thing is that other drink was a cola (Coke or Pepsi not sure) which I also don’t like to drink. I’m a 7-Up or Mtn Dew kinda guy. But in this instance it was adequate for the purpose of cleansing the taste of coffee from my tongue.
It wasn’t until some friends, years later, took me to a coffee shop (not a Starbucks) that I discovered Chai. One of my reasons for a coffee resistance besides the taste was, I’m not a hot drink guy. My hot chocolate was always more enjoyable if it was chocolate milk( I did like the melted marshmallows though). So hot drinks, not really my thing. But I didn’t mind a hot Chai or even a lukewarm one.
Fast forward to the early 2000’s Starbucks was everywhere and I’d occasionally had a Chai. This was mostly when out with friends and they’d stop for a coffee. Then I read a Men’s Health article (my trying to save my health phase) about the benefits of coffee. By this time I’d discovered Mochas/Lattes which I liked but was still aware of all the additions to the coffee that were weight enhancers, so I didn’t indulge often. But this article touted the non-fat (skinny) vanilla latte with protein added. Yes! That became my drink to the extent that I knew when the barista made it they needed to put the protein in when they did the thing with the little swing arm that scalded the milk. If they didn’t do it that way I’d get lumps of protein in my drink. I sent back a few. Yes I was that guy. Anyway Starbucks got me back when they discontinued the practice of offering protein in the drinks (at least that was what I was told often enough that I stopped asking).
But by then I’d discovered I’d grown to like coffee. But not fancy coffee just iced coffee or an iced Americano. Remember the disdain for hot drinks? Now here we are in the 2020’s and I have a Starbucks coffee machine in the front office of the apartments I live in. I can drink coffee everyday. But I don’t. But I do drink it more often than before.
If you’ve been wondering why I’m writing this ode to coffee let me enlighten you. If you weren’t aware I’m writing a book and coffee has become my “crutch”. When I’m sitting here in front of the screen and I’m stumped for a word or phrase to make my writing excellent 😉 I reach for my coffee (iced of course) and savor that deliciousness. During that short break my brain goes into overdrive and WHAM! the word or phrase pops into my head and on the page. So I must give coffee it’s due. And I just took a drink of my coffee as I typed this sentence. Very meta right?
So to those of you who enjoy the dark liquid gold I raise my glass to you. Here’s drinking with you, kid.
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