Monday, October 17, 2011

Love Affair ~ My Column in Sunday's Paper

I’ve been in a love affair for most of my life. I started out younger than most, but I understood at a tender age the power of the attraction.

Before you start thinking that old Rick has lost his marbles, let me explain that my love affair is with coffee.

I remember one cool December morning when I was about five, I stumbled into the kitchen and stood with my back toward the Warm Morning coal heater that occupied the corner of our kitchen. Mama had stoked up the fire so hot the stovepipe was glowing as orange as the devil’s poker and the heat felt good on the back and legs of my pajamas.

Mama had the coffee pot sitting on the stove heating water for her morning coffee while she baked biscuits and fried up eggs and bacon.

Like most kids, I was interested in everything. I loved the smell of the coffee and that morning I asked if I could have some.

These days folks would probably have turned her in to DHR, but she didn’t bat an eye. She pour milk into a cup, added a teaspoon of sugar and poured in enough coffee to make it the color of a caramel apple. I sipped it tentatively, but from the first taste, I was hooked.

Later when I was drafted in the Army, I couldn’t find a lot of good things to say about the food, but the coffee was top shelf. It kept me from committing the Japanese ritual of harakiri (suicide with a big old sharp knife).

When I got back to the states and married Jilda, she was more of a coffee connoisseur than me. Back when we were so broke we couldn’t pay attention, and had very little to spend on food, coffee was at the top of our grocery list. We bought the best coffee we could afford.

We may have lived on rice and beans, but the coffee was as good as you could get at the Four Seasons in New York.

We joined the Gevalia Coffee club and received coffee from all over the world – dark roast coffee from Kenya, Columbia, New Guinea, and other exotic locales.

I make the coffee at our house because Jilda cannot articulate a coherent sentence until she’s had a cup of coffee. She also stumbles a lot and bumps into things until she gets her fix of caffeine.

Each day when the aroma of coffee wafts through the house like morning perfume, I can hear her feet hit the floor and she shuffles out of bed, and with a part moan and part growl she says – C O F F E E.

In the early years of our marriage, most of the live music was in bars and nightclubs, but these days our favorite places are coffee houses. Hart and Soul and O’ Henry’s in Homewood, Berkeley Bob’s in Cullman, the Daily Brew in Decatur, the Blue Bagel in Mountain Brook, and Red Cat on the south side of Birmingham.

Not only can you hear great live music, but you have the experience of seeing, smelling and tasting coffee. It doesn’t get any better, and you don’t wake up with a hangover.

So when the conversation turns to the loves of my life, the discussion would not be complete without talking about coffee.


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  1. Great post for a coffee lover to read! When I was kid, I' too asked to try some of my parents' coffee. My experience was a little different from yours - they drank their coffee black with no sugar, so my mom just let me have a sip. Too bitter for me back in those days! It was not until college when I had to stay awake through my 8:00 class after having been up past midnight reading my assignments that I learned to love coffee.

    BTW, my wife and I discovered Hart & Soul last week! Great spot! Crestwood Coffee Company is another place we love to go.

  2. Anonymous11:10 PM

    I remember Mom saying "you have to learn to drink either tea or coffee so you can have something when you are out visiting"....I wish I had ignored her.... Since I couldn't get tea past my nose, coffee it was and coffee it least 3 times a day. Thanks Mom.

  3. When I lived in England I learned quite quickly that it was expected that when anyone arrived at your home, day or night, you immediately offered, "would you like a drink?', this was a coffee or a tea, not a "drink", as we Americans refer to it. A kettle of piping hot water should be readily available at all times to "mash" your tea, or brew your coffee with. I did drink tea there, but nothing is as good a "drink", as a rich, dark fresh brewed COFFEE.

  4. I seriously need one great big cup of strong strong strong coffee once a day before noon to function. Seriously! Take care

  5. I only drink black coffee but I like it to be good black coffee :-)

  6. Ok, I'm in the minority here since I don't drink coffee. It's funny when people find that out and ask, "how do you survive?"...I'm high on life! Well, not really, but I grew up in a coffee drinking family and to this day I do enjoy the smell of coffee. When my family visits I provide it for them and the kids used to say that they always knew when Grandma was coming from the smell of the coffee. I always know which of our surgical pts. drink coffee. They are the ones with the headaches because they can't drink (or eat) for atleast 8hrs before surgery! Enjoy your cup of joe today!

  7. This was a wonderful column! Thanks for sharing it with us. We like our coffee strong. Most everyone we know makes their coffee too weak. We can't tolerate pale gray hot water! (Someone near and dear to me has been known to sneak in more ground coffee into a relative's coffee pot before it is brewed. I've seen him do it! ;~D )

  8. We have much in common. Hubby and I make sure we have our luscious coffee beans. He makes the coffee each morning and if I want more later I grind some decaf beans so I can drink it in the evening. The smell gets us every time.

  9. I LOVE coffee and I just LOVE the smell too! Wonderful! sandie

  10. My first real introduction to coffee also came from the smell of it brewing on the old agar stove on my aunt's farm. My sister and I had gone to spend a short school holiday with our cousins on the farm and one of their traditions was being woken up bright and early to 'farm' coffee (boerekoffie,) as it was called. It was made with plenty of creamy milk freshly taken from the dairy herd, at the crack of dawn and had several spoons of sugar added to it. It was delicious! I can therefore really relate to your own childhood memory of tasting your first cup of coffee.

    Another marvellously evocative post.

  11. I didn't find my love of coffee until I was in my late 30's. I've always loved the smell of coffee brewing though! And now I get to enjoy it was well.

  12. I love coffee too. Great article!

  13. Anonymous5:45 PM

    Nowdays in my favourite coffee shop they serve kids capuccino:)
    And coffee can't repeat enough do not know how I would be all day without it.
    Clicking on the link every day and see it almostdoubled since start
    is the rating anywhere else to see?

  14. I don't actually drink coffee, but I do love the smell of it brewing along with bacon and eggs on the stove! Nothing better.

  15. I ditto smells so good!!!

  16. No coffee, no life for JJ... That keeps me going. Must have before 7am or i feel weak and my head is empty...



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