It is National Coffee Day—one of those lesser known holidays that probably come about for the sake of some commercial interest. But I have to say that this one interests me a lot! I really enjoy coffee. There’s a story there. Grab a mug and listen up.
My dad was an early riser and he had a pot of coffee every morning before the rest of the house stirred. He would have his coffee (Chase and Sunburn or JFG or Maxwell House), read the Bible, read other books, and then make breakfast for his four kids. The smell of coffee permeated the house. It smelled like life.
I still remember the first cup of coffee I ever had. It was on the night that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon for the first time. The moonwalk took place at 10:56:20 p.m. EDT (Although I hear now that there is some mystery as to the exact timing of the fateful step; there is about an 8 second window in which it happened.) I was crazy about the Apollo program in those days. Like lots of kids I thought I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. I would have probably been awake anyway from adrenalin, but Dad and Mom wanted to make sure that we didn’t miss it. So they gave us coffee—actually sort of insisted that we drink it.
They were not sure how well we might like it, so they made coffee and then put in a good bit of milk and sugar. It was definitely blond coffee. I remember not really liking it. It felt like I was drinking syrup or something. The combination wasn’t my favorite. I believe that I drank it just because I was supposed to, but I surely did taste the attraction.
Funny how I remember that cup so well, but don’t remember when I started drinking coffee on a regular basis. I can remember having some during high school, but it was not a regular occurrence.
Perhaps it was when I returned to Tennessee from trade school and started working in wood shops. Frequently there was time for a coffee break in such places. Often there would be a pot brewed and sitting somewhere. Perhaps it was a gradual process. But whenever it was, the habit stuck.
I can remember years of meeting with Dave Owenby, a good friend and another craftsman, early mornings in his shop and sipping coffee and sharing stories and prayers. At one point he had come into a large (very large—seemingly bottomless!) container of Mexican coffee. I think he might have gotten it from his family that lived in Arizona. The critical point was that it was not very good coffee—at all! But we had lots of it, and the price was right. So we labored through that coffee morning after morning till it was gone. The friendship was more important than the brew—maybe one of those mutual suffering sorts of things.
My wife does not drink coffee. She does, however, like the smell. She has said that when I die she’ll have to make a little bit of coffee in the morning so that the house smells right. I have heard of others with that same perspective. More for me, I guess!
At a former church that I pastored there had been a long-standing plan to remodel the kitchen when the money finally came in. I insisted that we purchase a good quality, industrial coffee maker. Having been a camp director, I know how much coffee a church can consume. One woman who had been working on this project for years was incredibly resistant to the purchase—she couldn’t see putting that much money in a coffee pot. I held my ground and we got a good Bunn Coffee maker with a hot water dispenser as well. Don, Jay, and myself spent a morning messing with it to determine the best recipe that could be repeated so that we could always have good coffee. When writing out the instructions we timed the process and learned that it took 2:36 to make a pot of coffee. Excellent! The woman who had fought against it now embraced the ease, simplicity, and speed with which we could make java.
My secretary at that church was a big time tea drinker. We would argue about whether the ‘leaf’ or the ‘bean’ was best. Neither of us ever moved an inch on our opinions. Once she went on vacation and brought me back a postcard with a smiling woman holding a coffee cup—the caption said, “Drink Coffee—Do stupid stuff faster and with more energy!”
Somewhere along the way coffee because chic. People started opening coffee shops and making a variety of brews. Personally I’ve always been a hot, black coffee kind of guy. I’ve said that if it take more than that to order a cup, you’re actually drinking something else. I wouldn’t pay some of these prices for coffee. Giving it a fancy name doesn’t impress me much.
It has also become a common social event. We ‘have coffee’ with someone so that we can chat and relax and relate. I think it was Starbucks that said their main product was ‘community.’ There is some truth to that. I’ve said before in church gatherings that once we have coffee then we can have fellowship. Hard to imagine a church gathering in which coffee is not at least available.
The pandemic closed down our normal kinds of gatherings, but one thing I did during the pandemic was to ‘have coffee’ with friends through online platforms. We could still get together over a cup of coffee even if we were miles apart. I still try to do that with friends who live in other places. Love a Saturday morning sipping coffee and catching up.
I’m drinking a variety of coffees today. Started out with Yeti coffee that I purchased in a small shop in Craig, Alaska. I’m using the coffee press that my daughter Maggie got to replace the glass press I broke during our fall camp last year; it is a heavy-duty, solid stainless steel press that should last for years. Right now I’m drinking Mystic Monk Blend, on of my favorites that is roasted by some Carmelite Monks in Wyoming. I will probably also brew some coffee that comes from Africa this morning before I’m done. It may be National Coffee Day, but it has an international flavor to it. I’ll enjoy them all.
When I put up a post for Coffee Day a friend wrote back, “You speak my language!” To which I replied, “yes, I speak fluid java!”