Ode to Coffee

 I was nearly 30 before I developed a full appreciation for coffee. But my liking for it flows back all the way to my childhood.

Dad would retreat to the laundry, just off the kitchen, to have his morning instant and a ciggie, opening the window to let out the fumes.

I’d discover his coffee mug after he had gone to work, and would drain the dregs of his sugary, milky brew.

I guess that’s where my appreciation of a cuppa joe - the smell, the hit, the ritual, the taste – stemmed from.

We have been drinking it for generations.

Arabs drink theirs black and fragrant in shot-glass proportions with a side of medjool dates.

Parisiennes drink it with or sans milk, paired with a croissant for breakfast.

In Singapore they like to add condensed milk to make Kopi-C, which is handy if you have run out of milk and don’t mind sweeter stuff.

In Africa, sweetened and spiced with maybe a little brandy or white rum.

American pop culture tells us police like to dunk donuts in theirs. 

Coffee is the daytime beverage of choice for us journalists. It was in the newsroom that I discovered my limit for espresso – three – for tipping me over the edge into sleeplessness.

Hotel breakfasts at conferences would be shunned in favour of a cafĂ© espresso up the road. Those on the early shift would leave their positions en masse to hit the coffee shop downstairs at opening time. 

I don’t drink coffee to stay awake now though. I drink it for the ritual. Let’s be honest, I drink it because I’m a mum.

Weekdays were for instant coffee and weekends for filter. Saturday and Sunday mornings were hotly anticipated for late breakfasts of pancakes and coffee percolated on the stovetop.

Long days as a stay-at-home mum were made more bearable with that coffee pot. While pregnant with baby number two, I mistakenly drank four cups a day of what I presumed was decaf. Thankfully that was an easy answer for the cause of my racing heart.

The adrenaline boosts help, but the ritual of sitting down with a comforting drink of something creates a serenity moment in my day. At a time where all hours seem consumed by the demands of little people, the time where I have a coffee cup in my hand, even if only briefly, is purely mine.

During 2020 lockdown my husband and I made the easy decision to invest in an espresso machine and ease the burden on our wallets and the planet in daily takeaway coffee purchases. 

The whirring of coffee beans being ground and the rich scent in the air is a wonderful morning pick me up.

It’s lovely to make coffee for friends who pop around. A hub for the kitchen. Comfort, care and motivation in a mug.

A soul food, an elixir, held tightly with two hands, providing a moment for the world’s problems and the dramas of young family life alike to be spoken and heard.  

I drink my coffee strong now, double shot with a flat top of frothy milk. 

Courtesy of Christmas gifts, we also have coffee chocolate, coffee fudge, and coffee exfoliating body scrub. 

But even with my sophisticated or somewhat hardy palate, I’m still whisked back to childhood with the taste of a comforting milky brew.

Back to the granular sprinkling of cinnamon, sugar and coffee crystals atop Mum’s coffee cake. Or the coffee infused barley sugars that sustained me through 20-hour fasting fundraisers as a teen.

On a warm summer’s day, a milky iced coffee with two teaspoons of sugar and a drop of cream will still transport me back to my childhood home, where I’m sinking the last drops from Dad’s mug. 


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