What Is Your Relationship To Coffee?
I grew up in a small town in the Midwest. As a young child my favorite adult in the world was my Uncle Jim. He would stop by for coffee at least once a week and thrill us all with tales of his adventures. He was an avid outdoorsman who made his living as an arborist and sold firewood as an aside. Often times he would gather a load of wood and deliver it to one of our elderly neighbors free of charge to be sure they kept warm during the cold winter months. He also dabbled in masonry as moving large rocks “kept him strong”. Always good natured and kind, Uncle Jim was and still is a joy to be around.
Uncle Jim was a no frills kind of guy. His jeans would often be worn well past the time my mother would have retired them to the “rag bag”. They typically were an inch too short – clearly exposing the top of his boots and his trademark white socks. In the winter, he wore flannel shirts with the sleeves haphazardly chopped off at the shoulders, the threads still showing. In summer, he wore white cotton tank tops. This was in total contrast to my father’s freshly pressed dress shirts and tailored slacks. He drank his coffee strong and black sometimes preferring to add the grinds to make a muddy mix. In one departure from his no frills nature he liked high quality coffee preferring freshly roasted coffees from Central and South America. My mother indulged him here and would always have these exotic blends on hand (I never knew where she found them). I can still recall the sweet aroma that filled the kitchen while the coffee brewed as I sat at the table listening to his tales of fending off bears and mountain lions. I am sure he threw in a few about wrestling alligators but I now know those were just for fun. I would quickly jump up to refill his cup whenever it got low. I did not want the stories to end.
At 16 I decided to become a coffee drinker. Like Uncle Jim, I take my coffee strong and black and prefer freshly roasted coffees. I was never brave enough to add the grounds except once during a rafting trip down the Colorado at 23. I will say it is still not my favored way to drink coffee but it does have a place.
Even now, some thirty plus years later, I often think of Jim when I sit down to my morning (or afternoon) cup of coffee. I replay his wild tales and remember a few of my own. My relationship with coffee is similar to my relationship with life – I honor the people with whom I have shared the experience. Most of whom have been wild and robust individuals that stretched the limits of my imagination and brought a smile to my face, joy to my heart and a spirit of adventure to my soul.
Do you have a special relationship to your morning cup? Feel free to share it.