Coffee People. We all know someone who is a Coffee Person. Heck, half of you good and gentle people are probably Coffee People. This post is for you.
My parents were Coffee People. Community Coffee, the drink choice of the deep south. My mom still has a little battered aluminum drip coffeepot that has made countless thousands upon thousands of cups of coffee. My father and she would be up every morning before dawn, talking quietly, eating breakfast and drinking a cup each. No more, no less. My mother might take a second cup after a few hours, after my brother and I were up and rolling around but not always. A cup in the afternoon was never frowned upon by my mother, but never too close to bedtime.
To this day on Sunday afternoons all of my mother's siblings join together during what would be tea time had we not had that Boston Tea Party thing. They've been doing this since they each moved away from home for the first time. They sit around the kitchen table and curse and argue and fight and smile and talk and reform the bonds of kinship and love that any family has especial rights to. Always with coffee as the lubricant of choice.
My mother tried to turn my brother and I to the Dark (Roasted) Side when we were youngish, but it never seemed to take. Oh, we both flirted with the Coarse Ground Goddess, but she never sank her beans into either of us. I remember trying to love her, though. Getting up on weekend mornings and finding an unadorned white ceramic mug at my breakfast plate. Coffee with a strong dash of milk in, and two heaped spoons of sugar. You'd order it from a barrista as Cafe' au lait, though we never called it that. "Coffee milk" it was called if it had to be named, which it rarely was. I drank it on weekends on the front porch with my parents, watching the morning begin. Letting my old dog lick the last mocha-tan drops out of the bottom because he knew I always left him a little of the sugar slurry, too.
It never stuck, though. In college I flirted with The Caffeinated One briefly when I was finishing my art degree. The professor kept a pot on, and I was fiercely proud of the anole mug I'd made in Ceramics. Mottled tan brown like the coffee and cream I drank from it, with a handle made to look like a lizard's slim body, its triangulate head peeking over the rim into the brown sweet goodness. When I worked for the lumber yard I kept the Community "Coffee Service" guy happy--eight to twelve pots a day I brewed, every single day. Never drank it myself, just kept the water fresh and the grounds loosely shaken into the paper filters. At Orifice Depot I drank a cup occasionally but only because my manager expected me to make sure he had a fresh pot on at 6am when we arrived to unload the day's truck. He would drink, quite literally, a pot at home before coming to work and immediately another pot at work. He carried a spun aluminum cup that was probably meant to be a serving carafe, and he drank it as the Arabs do--black as night, and as hot as hell.
Mrs. I broke down a few weeks ago and bought a coffee maker for herself, being, I thought, the only drinker in the house. It's one of the nicer ones; white and modern, with a timer so that you can have fresh brewed waiting for you in the morning. Each day I wake at 5:45, brush my teeth, make water, slip into my huge maroon robe and let Belle out of her kennel and help Penny down off the bed. We all then wander blindly into the pitch dark living room so they can go outside and perform their morning ablutions. Pitch dark, that is, except for the eerie underwater blue-green bioluminescence of the 'maker's display panel, silently counting down the last thirty minutes to Coffee Time.
A few mornings ago I was sitting at the table about to begin eating my fresh scrambled eggs and toast along with a tall tumbler of swee'tea when my daughter walked into the kitchen, already dressed for school. She rummaged in the kitchen cabinet and came down holding my Rosie The Riveter mug, the one I brought home from the office months ago after the hot tea I'd been brewing in it started staining the white ceramic. She turned to the coffee pot and poured, then added a liberal dose of powdered creamer and sugar. I could tell by the way she hunched her shoulders over and kept her head down that she was embarrassed, hoping not to draw attention to behaviour that was out of the ordinary.
I smiled to myself as I watched her go about the stirring, her being extra careful not to ding the spoon on the insides of the mug too loudly. She brought her treasure to the table and slid into her accustomed chair across the round table from me. I smiled, said good morning and went about eating, watching her without her seeing me watch as she blew and sipped her way through her cup, around forkfuls of egg and toast.
My child is growing up. Some of her behaviour she takes from me--her quiet, fast way of talking. The way she matches bites of egg with bites of toast. The way she drinks iced tea now at supper. Some ways are entirely hers, though. Drinking cafe' au lait from her dad's mug, exploring the ways of adults. No doubt my mother led her onto that path, but that morning was the first time she displayed her new habit for her father, afraid I'd call her down, tell her she was too young for the Powers of Caffeine. Naturally I didn't, just smiled and let her start to make her own way.
I don't know if she'll be Coffee People or not. Perhaps one day she'll stand proudly at a Starbucks counter and order some extraordinary drink of hot water and exotic beans, order it with the glib ease of a native drinker. Perhaps she'll turn out like me and always live just on the outskirts of The Coffee Nation, be a social drinker only, a rare visitor to those dark and exotic shores. Either way is fine with me.
As long as I can keep her from smoking cigars we'll be fine.