Friday, August 28, 2009


My mother has always drank coffee. When I was a child, coffee makers were expensive, so she drank instant coffee. Bitter 1980s Folgers crystals, mixed much too strong and then nuked in the microwave until burnt, and she drank it black. To this day she is never without her coffee cup, and although she now uses an actual coffee maker, she still drinks bad coffee. She makes her morning pot around 6:30 am and drinks half of it, then turns off the warmer and goes to work. At noon she comes home for lunch, pours herself a cup of old, cold, coffee and nukes it, and drinks a couple cups that way. At 4:00 she does the same thing to the dregs in the bottom of the pot before making herself a new pot. And half the time she forgets the cup in the microwave and has to reheat it all over again. It's oily, bitter, and leaves a film of dust in the mug. It's disgusting.

When I was 15 or so, I decided I was going to become a coffee drinker, to establish myself as an adult. After a couple swallows of my mother's coffee, even fresh brewed, I went back to Mountain Dew as my caffeine source of choice.

When I was 20, in 1997, the coffee shop, Seattle, Starbucks, Central Perk, giant cappuccino mug movement was in full swing and I took a second job, at a coffee shop. This particular coffee shop was a lunch-break haven for yuppies during the day and a beat-poet 20-somethings hangout at night. To this day I equate acoustic guitars and paperback copies of On The Road with mocha lattes made with Hershey syrup. I discovered that in a 2 to 1 ration of steamed milk, I could tolerate coffee. I even learned how to make Turkish coffee, although the grounds always bothered me. But then I got pregnant and, as a single mother, exotic coffee drinks were suddenly out of my price range. Back to the Mountain Dew.

Now I'm 33, and I have to wake up to get my 11 year old daughter off to school and care for my one year old son, and Mountain Dew costs $5.00 a 12 pack. And, the same daughter whose very existence made espresso drinks a thing of the past bought me an espresso machine for Christmas a couple years back. I still use Hershey syrup, and I now microwave the milk rather than steaming it (steaming it took so long the espresso got cold and the tiny tank on the machine ran out of water), but I now start my mornings with a giant insulated mug of coffee. Hell, today I had two. I can't drink it past noon or I'll be up all night; pregnancy plus a year of breast feeding hath robbed me of my Mountain Dew induced caffeine tolerance. And my husband detests the smell or taste of coffee on my breath. But I have finally, finally, achieved the adult coffee-drinker status I wanted in high school, now that I would love to be mistaken for a teenager once again. How ironic.

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