Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Cup of the Dawn

As I sit here at my computer early in the morning, one item I always have sitting at my left elbow on the old oak desk is a cup of coffee. Starbucks coffee, strong, usually Sumatra but this morning it's Gold Coast Blend. In a big, oversized white cup, ceramic, narrowing toward the bottom, band of blue around the top, sitting atop a round leather coaster. Coffee. Give me my breakfast in the morning; but I must have my coffee.

I never drank coffee until I was into my early twenties. I got started on coffee in graduate school, UW-Madison math department, where I was a teaching assistant, and I somehow had the idea that a cup of coffee would help to settle my nerves after teaching a calculus discussion section. Up on the ninth floor of Van Vleck, the math building, someone maintained a large coffee maker, the kind you see in cafeterias. Membership in the Coffee Club was only $20 per semester, all the coffee you could drink. I was in. After class, or while working at some odd hour in my office, I would wander up to ninth floor and get a cup of coffee.

I don't know whether it calmed my nerves or not. I do know I've been drinking coffee ever since. I drink it black, though for several years there at first, I used to take it with sugar.

Memories are dim, but it seems that for breakfast at home in the morning I must have relied for some years on instant coffee, and water heated in a pan on the stove. Didn't get a coffee maker until I was going on 30, living in a river town in northwest Illinois. From then on, except in dire emergencies, I've always used ground coffee; and, until the past year or two, it was always Hills Brothers.

osama bin laden on hills brothers coffee can
I wonder if I'm the only person who's noticed that in recent years, they no longer have Osama bin Laden on the side of the Hills Brothers coffee can, as they always used to years back.

Coffee is intertwined with my after-breakfast memories down through the years. North Carolina, late 80s and early 90s, retiring to the living room with a cup of coffee after breakfast, sitting in that big overstuffed armchair, one leg slung over the arm as I sat there reading Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind. North central Illinois, mid 90s, second floor apartment in what used to be a funeral home, tower on one corner of the building, sitting there with coffee in that same armchair inside the tower-alcove off the corner of my living room, listening to Don Wade and Roma on Talkradio 890 WLS from Chicago.

And now, sitting here at my desk in front of my computer in my study, with a cup of coffee at my left elbow on a leather coaster.

It was only within the past year or two that a parishioner of mine served me some coffee, wonderful coffee, which they'd picked up at a KwikStar of all places. Wonderful coffee, way better than Hills Brothers. I checked it out, and before I was done, I'd discovered those bags of ground coffee, Starbucks, at the supermarket. Well, why not? In these latter days I'm hardly impecunious; and my morning is hardly a morning without coffee.

In fact when my old coffee maker gave up the ghost not long ago, I went so far as to invest in a Bunn coffee maker. It really does make a difference, and it makes good coffee even better.

There are things I could do without, but coffee is hardly one of them.


Anonymous Lucy said...

I've heard www.coffeefool.com is outrageously fabulous, although I've never tried their stuff. Since I don't actually drink coffee in any form, ever. I'm a more of a hot-chocolate-with-real-cream-and-occassionally-sprinkles kind of girl.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006 11:23:00 AM  

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