Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I should have known when I met my future in-laws, forty five years ago, that coffee would be the "other woman" in the life I was soon about to share with my husband.  When I visited their home for the first time, I was astounded at the array of coffee makers that they owned.  Some were in present use, some just sitting in the kitchen, having been tested, discussed and put aside for their failure to produce the perfect brew.

In my own home, the simple percolator had simply been replaced by the newly introduced electric Farberware pot.  The Farberware was streamlined for its day, easy to use and reliable, at least by my parent's standards. Now, don't get me wrong, coffee was an important part of the daily life of my family.  We never started a day without some version but we were unfussy and easily satisfied, going through jars of instant coffee every month.
My father needed a cup of coffee to accompany his chocolate doughnuts.  My mother needed hers to get me to sit down with her at the table where we held our "breaks" from our ritual Saturday morning cleaning sessions.

I have so many memories of the life that Joe and I have spent together thus far and as I open the file in my brain, thumbing through those, I find that I stop at the letter "C" a lot.  You see, he inherited his parent's obsession and we, also, have been through many versions of brewing implements as we marched forth in our quest to find the perfect one for our needs.

Our married life started out with a little percolator pot that sat perfectly on top of a burner on the little gas stove of our first apartment.  Brought to the boil and then turned down to simmer for exactly seven minutes, the little pot yielded nice little cups of coffee.  Cups that got us through many a sleepy morning or late afternoon drowse, courtesy of our sleepless wonder baby.  Of course, we did own both a four and an eight cup Farberware model.  What bridal shower would be complete without those gifts?  These, however, we  reserved for company.  I knew that I had a place in the family on the day that my mother in law oohed and aaaahed over what she considered to be then, and still now at her tender age of 97, the best cup of coffee she's ever had.  Yes, it was I who held the honor of delivering this to Senora el Exigente herself.  A perfectly aromatic, full-bodied cup of coffee that I made, plastic lid from coffee can, right there in the brewing basket during the entire ten minutes that it took to produce.  She still talks about it.

We've had the good fortune of having traveled both in this country and abroad as have our relatives.  In the family archives, are many a postcard on which the word "coffee" makes an appearance.  "Great hotel, nice view, lousy coffee"....."Beautiful area, great weather, mediocre hotel, great coffee"......"Good coffee here but no half and half!!!"......"Miss you, wish you were here, bringing back a bag of the local blend for you".
No matter where we find ourselves, we always find ourselves seeking coffee.  My husband can not go very far without it.  I've even known him to take the train into Manhattan, en route to meet me for dinner, first stopping for a cup of java at Grand Central Station. Weddings, lavish parties, school plays and parent's nights, I always knew the words were coming.  "Where's the coffee?"

Now you would think that Starbucks would have a special place in our hearts.  Surprise!  We are not fans.
Perhaps it is the type of bean, the price of a cup or maybe it's the ambiance that we don't like.  Instead, Duncan Doughnuts and MacDonald coffees are much more satisfying.  Could it be that we are too old for Starbucks?  We would never admit that but we do meet a lot of "our kind" of coffee lover on lines at the less elite places.

At the moment, I am thinking of the very best of the very best and of course, Italy is on my mind.  There isn't a postcard in the world capable of describing the role that coffee plays in the experience of visiting this, the coffee capital of our world.  I can smell the cappuccino and the espresso.  I have visions of that first cup that we enjoy soon after our arrivals in the Rome airport.  No matter where we are headed next, we take the time to sit and savor.  Absolutely perfect, every single cup.  Beautiful in every way.  A sea of white foam, a random pattern of cinnamon sprinkled atop, an aroma drifting upward, taste buds meeting in the middle.  I hesitate before the first sip for I do not want to disrupt the beauty in the cup.  That first lovely cappuci brings the promise of so many more as we set off on our journey.  Delightful elixirs to be enjoyed only in the mornings.  Afternoons will bring us to tiny cafes or bars for quicker pick-me-ups of espresso. I can see and smell those places and long to be there. With my own stove top espresso pots, the little lavender one a gift from our friends in Umbria, Giselle and Mark, and cans of imported espresso coffee, I simply cannot reproduce what we take so for granted in Italy.  One has to be there, not just dream of being there.

As I look up at the clock, I am reminded that it is time for "Elevens", time to go load up the basket of our beloved Capresso coffee maker, time to get ready for Joe's return from his morning work.  I just know that on this rainy morning, there will be nothing that he will want more than a fresh cup.  We need it.  It is, after all an important part of our lives.  We'll talk about our plans for our next trip to Italy.  We can't do that empty-handed!


1 comment:

  1. I love the thought of you preparing your coffee in that pretty little coffee pot guys! We miss you tons and can't wait for you to get over here again!