I have a vivid picture of drinking my first cup of coffee. I was socializing in a conference room with a group of a dozen middle school children, who were chosen to be leaders of some sort for our 7th grade class. I was 11 years old, and loaded the Styrofoam cup with about 5 sugars and 6 creamers. This was the only way I could choke down the bitter beverage. It was great. We grinned at each other as we drank our milky, almost white, cups of coffee. And we laughed at our Dad’s who actually liked drinking this stuff black. It wasn’t till I was 16 years old that I tasted my first cup of coffee that wasn’t sweet like a dessert- straight black. Visiting a Costa Rican coffee farmer in his kitchen, I learned about the back breaking work of owning a coffee farm and the process of how the beans evolve from his back yard to a cup of java at Starbucks. I didn’t know how to politely ask for milk in Spanish, so I took a hesitant sip out of courtesy to his hospitality. It was probably the best cup of coffee I ever tasted. Sweet and hot. The coffee grounds came from his finca de café that sloped over a whole mountain behind his house. His outdoor kitchen was simple, with a wood burning stove and rough wooden table and benches. But I laughed over that cup of coffee as much as in the polished conference room 5 years earlier.
I hold many coffee dates, coffee conversations, coffee shop memories dear to myself. A cup of coffee with the cream that swirls gently into the black liquid. The earthy, sweet aroma that you catch as you walk down the stairs to your kitchen in the morning. The intensity that your friend starts speaking as the caffeine charges her system. And I’ve been lucky enough to do this coffee thing all over the world- Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica, across the USA- What a cultural gift!
I took a break from coffee for a few months, but recently I started drinking it on the daily. I am back to coffee highs, caffeine buzzes, and continuing traditions of centuries past. Now that I can drink it again, I can’t help but share my pleasure in the simplicity of a cup of coffee. Comforting when getting me through a long day of work, but best enjoyed in the presence of others. It’s the little things like coffee that I’m most thankful for in this Season of Thanksgiving.