My first memory of coffee was with my grandfather in Houston. He made his coffee black: no sugar, no cream. And coming from Louisiana, his coffee had chicory melded in. He handed me his cup when I must have been but eleven years old and told me to try it.
We were standing in the massive kitchen in their home, and I suddenly felt to sophisticated. I held my first cup and had an air of holier-than-thou attitude over my little sister who was jumping up and down next to me begging for a sip of the warm, black liquid.
I smelled it first, and it did smell amazing. A smile crept across my face as I bent my head down to the mug like I had seen my parents and my grandfather do countless times. But when I first tasted it, my face contorted and the bitterness on my tongue made my stomach turn. I managed to swallow the swill and put the mug down before my body did a full shudder of disgust. My family loved it. They all laughed and slapped their knees at their inside joke leaving me with this never-ending “finish” on my tongue.
From then on, I stayed away from coffee. At least you could get flavored teas.
* * * * *
For twenty-six years, I was a tea drinker. I used the French press for loose leaf teas, I frequented boutique shops, and thoroughly enjoyed tossing a bag into my mug and sitting on my college balcony. (I’m an old soul.)
But then, something changed. I met my husband. And to quote Fight Club, [he] ruined everything.
Jeff is a multiple-cups-a-day coffee drinker and believes that a great day starts with a hot mug. So, when we moved in together, we had to merge our kitchen utensils, and saw he had a grinder and French press (not used for tea leaves). I left the machine alone, intimidated by its buttons and bells. The jarring sound as it grinds up beans is certainly not inviting either. But as we got more comfortable being in the same home, he asked me very politely if I could brew a cup for him.
I gave it a go after a strict and thorough lesson. The smell was intoxicating, and I found myself salivating. I will just give it a try, I thought.
first second sip, it was game over.
* * * * *
Just a few months after we moved in together, we were married and residents of London, England. We had to pack up our things and put all of our kitchen utensils in a box to be shipped over with us. But, there was a problem: our stuff would take 7-10 days to arrive. We didn’t want to risk packing our beloved French press in our suitcase to have it broken on the plane, so we packed it away to be protected with our other glassware for the moving men to handle.
When we came to the land of tea, we craved our coffee. But in order to not buy another French press, we caved and bought instant coffee.
It was absolutely disgusting, but we drank it anyway to get that temporary high of caffeine and routine. Suddenly, tea was becoming more appetizing.
Well, on this past Monday, our things from America finally arrived! It was all I could do to not tear the box apart in order to locate our beloved press. [Okay, maybe I did tear the box apart a little.]
I raced over to the High Street Kensington tube station to locate the Whole Foods Market: the only relic that is exactly the same from Austin, Texas. I found some beans and ground them up to be taken immediately back home.
With this trip to High Street Kensington, I had planned to walk around the gardens and parks, but with coffee in my possession, I had completely forgotten about the parks and raced back home via the Central line to Ealing Broadway “stinking” up the tube with the rich aroma of coffee.
Needless to say, the coffee was amazing and a far cry from the disgusting instant, freeze-dried crystals we used as a gateway substitute.
So, after just six months, I can officially say I am a coffee drinker. [Has it really only been that long?]
As Jeff and I are looking out the window to the grey and oppressive clouds, admiring our new view and skyline with the familiar taste of home, we know this is going to be one hell of an adventure.