Sunday, December 30, 2007

Coffee - American Style

A great cup of coffee can be something really special. I enjoy sitting out on our patio in the three seasons I can watching the day unfold with a mug of coffee to begin my day. But we here in the U.S. are fast becoming coffee snobs. We need espresso, or lattes to say that we’ve had real coffee.

I began my own love of coffee as a young bride in a family that harkened back to their Dutch heritage of coffee drinking. The coffee was perked back then - not a good way to enjoy the real coffee experience. I use to sugar and cream my cups to death back then, and I drank because everyone did at family gatherings. Don’t get me wrong, my own parents drank the dark brew as well, but somehow it wasn’t quite as appealing to me back then. I tended to follow an Irish grandmother of mine in preferring tea to that cup of java.

Then in coffee houses of the 50s and 60s, and with opening of that first Starbucks in 1971, everything changed for that simple “cup ‘o joe” we had all come to know. The uncomplicated cup of coffee became something almost unrecognizable. From the two types, decaf and regular, our choice grew to espressos, cappuccinos, lattés and a sundry of other flavored hot coffee-like drinks as well. Somehow the thought of caramel latté with frothing milk just doesn’t tempt me, and that’s why I usually find myself ordering a uncomplicated cup of either decaf or regular coffee when visiting our local coffee corner.

That said, I have say I do love the pub-like gathering space that has developed in many of these local establishments in our town. There are newspapers, comfy chairs, kids studying, and families and friends sharing a moment of quiet conversation in the corners of my own favorite coffee place. It has become a haunt where I often begin whatever writing project I’m working on, and has become my own special corner of the world every week. Like the cafés of Paris, and the pubs of jolly ole’ England the corner coffee place has become our own extended living space where gathering is as important as the coffee served there. I hope that it doesn’t fade like so many things in our fast paced society. I hope that it instead becomes that personal gift we give to ourselves - a truly American establishment.

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