Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Coffee Rules

We have good friends that I’ll call Bill and Diane since that happens to be their names. We meet them on a vacation in Anguilla years ago and have kept in touch ever since. Like me, they were both middle school teachers, now retired. We have similar tastes in books, travel, hobbies--but enough differences to make it interesting when we get together.
Here’s a major difference. Before Bill was unable to do so due to the limitations of Parkinson’s Disease, he was in the daily habit of rising early enough to make coffee which he would then pour into a cup and carry, on a small lacquered tray, back up to the bedroom. He woke his beloved wife with a freshly brewed cup of coffee which she could sip as she got ready for the work of the day. Do you see the incredible romance of that? The woman had coffee--freshly brewed coffee--before she even had to get out of bed in the morning.

“What a loving thing to do,” I pointed out to my own husband upon learning of this tradition.

Honestly, I pointed it out to him many, many times over the years. I often steered him toward lovely trays at tag sales and antique shops. “How romantic! How sweet! You could use this to bring me coffee in the morning,” I would sigh--all to no avail.  Honestly, I almost think he just plain ignores some of the things I say to him.

Unfortunately, I have to be honest. I like to tease Mike about his glaring lack of attentiveness in light of the habits of some model husbands, but I really would not care to have coffee brought to me in bed. The whole idea is actually anathema to me. It breaks the coffee rules, of which there are many.

There must be coffee in the morning. A day without sunshine is possible to live through. A day without coffee? No.

The first cup of coffee must be served at the kitchen table. Subsequent cups may be taken outside on a nice, dry morning OR to the coffee table to be sipped while completing the daily crossword and sudoku puzzles. This allows for the support of table and chair, allowing the body time to adjust to the upright position while coffee works its magic.  Once the hands are steady, then you can move with coffee in them.

Nothing should enter a coffee cup after the coffee itself has been poured into it. I use soy milk in my coffee. It has to be in the cup before the coffee is poured. I can tell the difference. Really. It is very distressing to have a restaurant waitress fill up my coffee cup and then hand my a couple of cream packets. Who trains these people? I believe it was James Bond who gave us that famous maxim: Swirled, never stirred.  This rule also prevents the disgusting habit of dunking other food substances into coffee.

Coffee must taste like coffee. Dark roast, French roast, 100% Colombian, special breakfast blend, Fair Trade--it doesn’t matter--just so it tastes like coffee. Flavored coffees are an abomination. Flavored, non-dairy creamers are a crime against nature.

Coffee must contain caffeine. There are no green coffee cans in my kitchen. God clearly intended coffee to have caffeine. Who are we, mere mortals, to tinker with divine plan??

Coffee needs to be a transformative experience. Sure, that experience will differ with the uniqueness of each individual coffee drinker, but for me the transformation can only happen after I stand upright, stagger and careen my way down the hall into the kitchen, hold the steamy mug in my shaky hands, inhale the pure aroma, and take that first cautious sip. Only then can I open my eyes to the wonders of a new day.  Bad dreams and night time worries are banished.  Even my hair relaxes a little.

Now, would I want my husband to deprive me of an awakening ritual that has started my day for so many years? Would I care to have him interject himself in my long standing and jealously guarded relationship with coffee? Not for all the tea in China.

Not an acceptable cup, clearly!

P.S.  Mike would like me to point out that he usually gets up before I do and is, therefore, the one who makes the coffee.


  1. Every day I need to choose the mug I want my coffee in. It all depends on how I feel. Jerry always makes the coffee and brings me my first cup. But he knows to ask me which cup I want it in. Such a good husband.

  2. Plus Mike tries to dig the glass out of your foot. Don't forget that.

  3. Coffee in bed for me is like breakfast in bed--romantic true-- but a crumb filled and brown stained folly.
    I do have my caffine/decalf in half and half proportions. Pure caffine gives me a marvelous bunch of lumps in my breasts(fibercystic breast condition). Compromise is sometimes necessary.
    Cute post.


I appreciate readers' comments so much. You don't even always have to agree with me.