Friday, October 16, 2009


I learned to drink coffee early in my life. In the bitter cold mornings of winter Mother would give me a cup hot from the tap of Nestles Instant Coffee. She seemed to think there was something in coffee that was good for children. Or, maybe it was her way of getting us to the bus on time.

A truly wonderful thing about coffee is that you can find it nearly everywhere in the world. Some cultures treat it like a sacred herb and brew it with reverence. Other subcultures make it and drink it with no thought to taste. Just something to wake up to, like the Midwestern percolated watered down stuff from the sixties. I like to think we have moved beyond the percolator. Maybe it will turn up as a relic in a museum in some future era when archeologists will have spend years trying to understand its significance.

I was treated to lovely coffee in Indonesia while waiting for my daughter to recover from an illness. In a café near the hospital I was given cups of thick soft brown velvet liquid. I savored it slowly letting it put me into a happy mood. At the bottom of the cup there would be about a half inch of rich moist sediment. I would spoon it up and eat it like pudding. Drinking coffee in that café took away the worry and tension of that time. When I left I asked the proprietor for some of his coffee to take home. I was given a brown bag that smelled wonderful but I was unable to replicate it. Perhaps it needed the special air of Indonesia.

Just this week while visiting my nephew in NYC I drank a little slice of heaven at 7:30 am at Grumpy’s café in Chelsea. I could smell the aroma of Grumpy’s long before we opened the door. My mouth was watering as I was handed a warm mug. We walked outside into the golden autumn crispness to drink it. At my first sip the world just slipped away. I had visions of flying away on a magic carpet into “A Thousand and One Nights” on the Arabian desert in a sultan’s tent with belly dancers, camels and a night lit with a million stars. New Yorkers know their coffee.

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