Oh Coffee, My Coffee

I am the child of two coffee drinkers; my mother was a nurse before she had me and drank coffee by the truckload, and my father is Italian. Enough said. In my childhood house, there was always espresso burbling from a stove-top pot, always those tiny cups full of thick, black muck that smelled wonderful but tasted like tar on my tongue.

Every day at 4 pm in my parents’ house, it is coffee time. When we are visiting them, the children run from all corners of the house, shouting “coffee time!” (There are also cookies at coffee time. Obviously.)

My maternal grandmother drank tea, and shared it with me when she lived in our house.

My paternal grandmother probably only drank coffee although I never asked her. She never left Italy in her 96 years of life so I am guessing she probably didn’t have the occasion to drink tea.

Even though I was born to drink coffee, I never did. I tasted it from time to time but it was so bitter. And I didn’t like the smell of it on people’s breath.

My first cup of coffee came from a vending machine on campus in my second year of university.

I had managed my first year without succumbing to the coffee craze that swallowed everyone else on campus. People met for coffee, carried cups with them like safety blankets, popped mints to get rid of coffee breath. Everyone else was having a more authentic university experience, I thought. Many of my new friends lived on campus and were away from home for the first time. They were staying up late, giggling and bouncing on their dorm room beds, cramming for exams, drinking wine coolers. I lived at home. I went home from school, ate a healthy dinner, watched some TV, talked on the phone and went to bed.

I know! There was no internet! My computer took floppy disks, several of them to make one word processing program run.

In my second year of university, I still lived at home, but I had an 8:30 am class in Canadian Politics. To get to school for that hour, I had to get on the bus at 7 am. Today, that would be no problem. When I was eighteen years old, it was a problem.

Canadian Politics, also, is really not that interesting.

My first week of lecture notes looked like this:
>>>>>>>>>>————————]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]] ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
or would have, if I had used a computer to write lecture notes.

By the second week of school, I found myself wandering aimlessly around the building before my lecture, bumping into walls and smiling faintly at the pretty ceiling lights. I decided maybe I needed a little help. I saw the vending machine and after watching several people buy their drinks, I took a turn and put my $0.75 in. I jabbed my finger on the ‘coffee’ button and the ‘cream’ button. A paper cup dropped down and a small nozzle began to spout a murky, brown liquid. I believe I added four or five sugar packets and stirred it in with a plastic stir stick. Then, clutching my small cup of precious coffee in both hands, I found a seat near the back of the lecture hall.

My first sip was no great revelation but the buzz that woke my brain approximately five minutes later made my notes look more like this:
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TRUDEAU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tea was never the same to me again. Tea was a leisure drink. Coffee was SERIOUS. I drank it and drank it. When I started drinking beer and staying up late, coffee kept me going until it was time to drink beer again.

Eventually I weaned myself off the sugar packets, and when I first started dating Saint Aardvark I also learned to appreciate black coffee because he drank his black and never had milk in his fridge. But at home, with my roommates, we drank coffee with ‘white stuff’ รขโ‚ฌโ€œ which could be milk, cream, or ice cream. Whatever was handy. Often, the ice cream was the safest choice.

Early in my first pregnancy, coffee made me queasy so I drank tea throughout. In my second pregnancy the queasiness subsided in the second trimester and I went back to coffee as soon as I could because working full time and looking after a toddler while pregnant = give me caffeine right this second or I will cut you.

Recently we were out of milk and ice cream so I had my coffee black and realized an important thing, especially given my occupation as a full-time parent: when black coffee gets cold, it tastes like cold, black coffee. When coffee with milk gets cold, it tastes like ass. Sure, you can reheat it in the microwave. Then it tastes like scalding hot ass. Or popcorn, if you happen to use your microwave mostly to make popcorn.

I like coffee. I like popcorn. I do not think they are complimentary flavours.

Two cups first thing in the morning is all I need. I can’t drink it at night. I like it bold and roasty. I don’t like it from fast food establishments but sometimes, that’s better than nothing. We buy the beans five giant bags at a time from Costco and the checkout person always makes a crack about it and I always make a crack back.


Are you coffee or tea? Or both? Or Red Bull? Tell me!

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