Coffee and Me

OK you probably won’t believe this, but I haven’t had a cup of coffee for 40 years, until this morning. This odd achievement, if you want to call it that, wasn’t out of some high moral ground or sense of nutritional superiority. It’s just that when I had my first cup of coffee in college it must have been pretty awful percolated stuff and it made me quite sick. Shortly after that I was introduced to the gentle art of Chinese tea and I just never looked back. I have an impressive collection of Yi Xing teapots, gaiwans, and assorted rare oolongs to show for it.

Maybe it’s because of the Snake year, or just the shift in perspective that comes with age (yes, I’m in my early 60’s,) but I just got very curious about this coffee experience. I have always loved the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans, so I decided to have a little coffee adventure. I would make one exquisite cup, in the morning of course after a good breakfast, and see what happened. My version of bungy jumping.

First I had to buy some. I thought this would be easy. Wrong. I stood in front of the coffee section at my local health food store for 20 minutes in utter confusion and embarrassment. All those different roasts, all those different types of beans. How the heck to figure it out. And then, how to work the machine that grinds it. I finally swallowed my pride and confessed to the store clerk that I was trying coffee for the first time and needed a little help. Turns out he was a coffee enthusiast and was delighted to have a newby to teach. I came home with a bag of freshly ground Guatamalan dark. Less acid, less caffeine, but a full rich taste.

The next morning I had to figure out how to brew the stuff. I had inherited a filter apparatus from a previous room mate, along with some of those brown filter papers. I googled “coffee, perfect brewing,” and came up with a dazzling assortment of opinions on the matter. But after settling on what looked like a reasonable approach, I went to work. I added a good sized dollop of organic half and half to the resulting brew, sat down at my sunny kitchen table, and savored my triumphant entry into the coffee world. It tasted pretty good.

I waited. I expected the shakes, heart palpitations, nausea, stomach pain. Nothing happened. I went to my desk and opened my email. Still nothing; no buzzy feeling, no jitters, nothing. But, and here’s the amazing thing, I romped happily and easily through hours of office work–the stuff I normally groan and complain about and have to drag myself through–all this I just danced through, calmly and efficiently. I think I was even humming a little tune. After an hour of this clear, focused work I dusted off my hands and said “ok, what’s next?”

Then it hit me. Oh, THIS is why people drink coffee! I could get used to this. But of course the true test would come that night. I’m normally a good sound sleeper, and there’s nothing that I let interfere with my precious sleep. I was wary of the effects of this single cup of java, even ten hours later. But alas, I slept like a baby that night.

Now, I can’t say coffee will ever replace my enchantment with the world of tea. However, my friend just sent me a recipe for a morning brew made with organic dark roast coffee, a little raw cream, a dash of honey, salt, raw butter, and gelatin. A warming, metabolism boosting nutritional drink.  I can’t wait to try this tomorrow morning. And think of the work I’ll get done!


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