When I was a kid, living with my grandparents, there were certain treats that were only for Grandpa. He had a jug of Gallo red wine that always sat on the floor at the head of the table so he could pour himself a glass during dinner. No one else in the family partook of this jug of wine. It was for Grandpa.
There were also occasionally special entrees at dinner for him exclusively, and, of course, for desert, coffee ice cream. We weren’t allowed to have that. Once in a while I was given a spoonful, just to whet my appetite for it, but that was all. It tasted really good. Exotic, to my youngster’s palate.
There was never any rebellion or even questioning of Grandpa’s privileges. He was Grandpa. That was enough for it all to make sense. It was the cultural norm that the head of the family get special treatment. (It wasn’t until much later that I started realizing that Grandma was the real head of the family – she ran the kitchen, she ran the business, she ran the discipline of us kids. But that’s a subject for another post, one about a patriarchal society. This one is about coffee.)
I didn’t really revisit coffee until well after I had graduated from college. I’d moved several times across long distances in that time, finally landing in Los Angeles, looking for fame, glory and artistic fulfillment. What I found was a stint in the Groundlings training program and another in the actual shows of the improv company called the LA Connection.
After performances, we would often venture out to a little bar not far from the theatre. I was a drinking novice and like sweet drinks (ah, youth) like rosé wine, long island iced tea, black Russians and white Russians. (Just so you know, I haven’t had any of these drinks in a very long time. As I said, I was an impressionable, naive young man and have many things in my past that cause me shame.)
For those not in the know, black and white Russians are made with Kalua, a sweet coffee liqueur, and vodka, hence “Russian”. (A bit of whole cream makes a black Russian into a white Russian. I liked both, sad to say.)
As I aged, I left behind childish things, started drinking Cabernet, bourbon, Irish and Canadian. And I also started drinking coffee. Sometimes I would take it black, sometimes with cream and sugar.
In the last several years, I have developed quite a desire for the bitter nectar. I can no longer have milk products, so no cream, and I don’t do sweets much, so no sugar. I now use almond milk to lighten it (Silk brand, of course. Much better than Diamond or any of the other swill) but if I find myself without the almond milk, I’m fine drinking it black.
I start each morning with a nice, strong cup. The morning doesn’t seem to have started until I’ve had some. For a while, I would brew a pot, have my morning cup, and put the rest of the pot in the refrigerator. (I only want one cup a day, hate to waste and live alone. Probably no surprise on that last bit.) Now, I simply brew one cup every morning, so it’s hot and fresh. Even in my dotage, I can learn, grow and develop, it seems.
So, why do I like coffee?
For the buzz.