My passionate love affair with coffee began long before I was old enough to participate in its worship. Even as early as diaper age, I was completely entranced by the dark roasted matter and intense adult obsession with it, and it still represents one of my strongest, cherished, early childhood memories. But it was not just any coffee that I fell in love with, it was the black, intimidating, aromatic, muddy, super potent Turkish coffee that became my first love and vice.
Until my hands were strong and large enough to hold and spin the old, funny smelling brass coffee mill, my love affair with coffee was limited to experiencing intense scents and spying inquisitively from underneath the kitchen table. From there, I safely inhaled the sweet, toasty aroma, spreading from small copper Turkish ibrik, permeating through space like a slow, deliberate aromatic takeover, teasing nose hairs, gently stroking brain waves, shutting eyes with each deep breath, and perking lips as if they blindly followed each sniff in.
Overwhelmed by sudden foot and chair frenzy, preceding the regular coffee ritual, I usually stayed imprisoned by the pillars of human and wooden legs, anxiously awaiting the sound of the first lighter click, the sight of the first curtain of smoke, swirling fancily through the lace border of the table cloth, followed by the sound of eager, lip pressed, first, hesitant slurps, cheered by the first steamy demitasse and saucer cling! I remember feeling like an eternity passed while I waited for the ritual to end, carefully listening to symphony of clangs, slurps and words, meaningless, complicated, big adult words. Then, just as it unexpectedly began, the coffee ritual ended and the foot and chair shuffle freed me once again to explore. Next stop, table top.
I only had few moments to sneak up before someone took away the cups and with them my first sweet drug of choice, the muddy, wet coffee grounds. I really liked what it felt like when I first stuck a finger in warm, fine, black sand and disturbed its glossy, settled surface, and I instantly loved how sweet and intense it tasted when it met my tongue! These first licks were my gateway to long term love affair with Turkish dark roast.
Apparently I wasn’t the first kid in the family with taste for java grounds, I later learned, the long held tradition in my family was to discourage kids from licking used coffee grounds, with the tried, effective method, by traumatizing the daylights out of kids through a ridiculous prank. One day adults warned me that the kids who lick coffee grounds run the risk of a bad side effect, they grow a tail! I was somewhat worried, but probably not enough since I fearlessly dug through sweet black mud that day. The next morning I woke up with a white bunny tail sown to the back of my pants. I didn’t notice it at first, but then someone asked what that furry thing on my rear was. I try not to imagine the sheer terror I felt when I touched the soft, puffy, bunny fur on the back of my pants, but I can imagine how funny everyone probably thought this practical joke on me was and how they laughed for years at my expense. what fun.
I must have been around 3-4 when these same super funny and arguably clever prankster adults started serving me Café au lait with dinner, because I hated milk, but tolerated it with the taste of coffee (no wonder). Not sure how funny this period of my life was for anyone in my family, because what followed was several torturous years of sleepless nights, wicked, scary, twisted nightmares, bedtime thirst, put out by several glasses of bed time water, which I had no choice but to lose most nights during sleep. I remember dreadful, exhausting nights, full of confusion, crazy dreams, guilt for wetting the bed, middle of the night mattress flipping, sheet changing, pajama changing with lights blaring, times that always puzzled me, and made me wonder what the heck was all of that all about, until I recently pieced it, it was all caused by my earliest love and opiate in life, delicious, dark roasted and brewed, muddy coffee.
It is no strange coincidence that as a young adult I took my first passion straight to Starbucks, where I had several different careers, professional incarnations, some of the biggest lessons in people, life, work and working life, where I met some of the best and coolest friends and formed great friendships, and as an awesome coffee-cherry on top, where I met my dear, late husband and love of my life, Rob. My passionate life-long love for coffee may not have anything to do with the price of tea in China, but it hugely affects the price of coffee in my personal Lilliput, it became priceless.