Saturday, October 27, 2007

Commitment to Coffee

Some people call it an addiction, a bad habit, a crutch, I call it a commitment. If you knew my mom you would know that if she had to choose between her kids and coffee it might be a hard choice! My commitment to coffee ebbs and flows with peer pressure, criticism, Catholic guilt infused so deep in my upbringing that it runs through my blood. I try to take a hiatis each year when I feel like my commitment has become more of a codependant relationship than a healthy one. When I feel like I am surfing a wave that peaks and crashes with each cup of joe.

I love going to sleep because that means I get to drink a steaming cup of coffee in the morning.

Today my cup of coffee is a Kicking Horse Espresso, a brand local to Banff, Canada, my home for the next month. I ground the shiny beans just yesterday. Between the supermarket and home the bag got temporarily misplaced. A minor panic attack ensued but a friend had already located the missing item and stuffed it into my mailbox. A short mission in town landed me a shiny new glass bodum. A few packets of cream pinched from the cafeteria, my mug, and an alpenglow sunsrise that is spilling across the Canadian Rockies outside my window.

I take a deep wiff of the soft, silky, grinds as I fill the base of the glass pot waiting for the water to boil. Steaming water marks the beginning of the dance between water and grinds. I lay the plunger atop the mix and sit waiting for the water to turn a deep brown, wait for the smells to tantalize my nose long enough. Coffee cup and cream are already situated next to the press. Now I threw in there the coffee cup as though it's a thoughtless part of the process, but the reality is that it is quite complicated. The vehicule through which the coffee is delivered, that first precious cup in the morning, the heavenly ritual, is quite important to the sentiment it brings. My dad was an avid coffee drinker, with a similar guilt complex, who at times abandoned his commitment shifting it to tea. But I know his heart sided with coffee. He had a gammut of hand made pottery coffee mugs. Looking back on it I am not sure if this was somthing he loved, or grew to love from the endless christmas and brithday boxes filled with different mugs given by kids, inspired by mom. He was a University Professor and spent many days in his study, sipping tea and coffee, reading and writing. Some of my assosiation with coffee comes from this childhood image; The assosiation between artist, intellectual and coffee. Hence forth, I can not drink coffee out of a factory made mug, it steals some of the creativity of the process. A predictable joke my little brother likes to play when serving me coffee during my visits back home, is to fill my mom's Starbucks mug, choosing the most beautiful, unique, ispring mug for himself. Sporting a huge grin, fighting the laughter, he delivers me the mug saying "Take That!" It never fails to leave us in stitches, and I always drink it up, despite the mug, because of the history of the joke, the mug feels special none the less.

Now, more on the history of my commitment to coffee from my mom's side. I have never met someone more comfortable in her own skin. Growing up in the shadow of this encouraged us to express ourselves, whatever our wierd eccentricities were. Sure, granted, at times I got ridiculed at school, when I carried a Waldo Lunch box to school each day at the age of 17, or my ecclectic outfits adorned with one of my mom's pairs of plaid Chuck Taylor high tops. But once set free from that horrible time in life where kids are cruel, judgemental, insecure, and cutting, I found that this was one of the most amazing gifts a parent can give a kid. Despite my dad's fluctuations with his commitment to coffee, despite his guilty conscience, my mom stayed strong, and committed, as she always is. I once asked my mom if she ever aspired to cut back her coffee habits. She smiled and laughed and said no way. She derives too much pleasure from this habit why change?

Many of our family jokes revolve around my mom's coffee habits.

"Mom, do you want a coffee?" Brendan, my little brother.
"Yeah, get me a ddddddouble esspresso, tttttrrrrriple if they have it!"
My brother could barely breathe as he related this story to me over the phone.

We are in the process of making a Cofffee-o-meter to attach to our telephone. When it rings and MOM flashes on the caller ID there will also be a caffiene rating from 1-10. Anywhere between 1-5 is safe to answer. Anywhere above, it may take some consideration of what space you are in.

So, my coffee commitment is not a problem, or an obsession, mererly an inherited passion, that as long as it gives me as much simple joy as it does this morning I will embrace!!


Todd said...

Ritual, addiction, or perhaps a a vestige of religion? I too, spend each morning patient by the stainless altar of rich nectar. I cannot blame it on my gene pool...

Caleb said...

I couldn't help but admire your writing skills after reading a "simple" post about coffee. I found your blog from The Cleanest Line. I will have to check back more often now.

Sinjin Eberle said...

I would love to send you some of my coffee - I think I could wow you with it! Your adventures are extraordinary! Check out and let me know if you are interested.