For a long time, I didn’t like coffee. Used to make fun of people who said they couldn’t function in the mornings without it. Congratulated myself on not being addicted to caffeine or a steaming cup o’ Joe.
Now I can’t get enough.
Back when I was a young preacher boy pastor, just learning about the real world, I tried to learn to like coffee, but never did get the taste for it. Many people find the smell of coffee brewing to be very pleasant – somehow I guess I expected it to taste like that delicious aroma smelled, but of course, it didn’t. I tried lightening it up with cream, and sweetening it with sugar, but it was no use. So for the next fifteen years or so, I didn’t try. Even staying up nights, going through graduate school, couldn’t make me like it.
But when we were in Johnson City, Tennessee, around 1993-94, I was teaching at Milligan College and managing their campus radio station. The mornings were frequently cold and wet there in the mountains of East Tennessee, and so out of curiosity, I bought some of the “International Cafe” French Vanilla instant mix. It was VERY sweet and VERY flavored – one friend described it as a “cup of coffee with a scoop of vanilla ice cream melted in it” – but I found I enjoyed it.
From there, I gradually learned to enjoy more the taste of the coffee, and needed less and less of the sweet and the flavoring. Now, 20+ years down the road, sometimes I will have a coffee-flavored drink as a treat or a dessert in the evening, sometimes with a shot of Irish Cream or amaretto added in, but in the morning, I’ll just take it straight, thank you.
So, is there a perfect cup of coffee? Such a question is bound to start a big debate with some folks – two of my grown children have been professional baristas, and I know they have definite opinions on the subject – but for me, I think enjoying coffee has less to do with what’s in the cup, and more to do with who’s at the table.
One of the best cups of coffee I’ve ever had was sitting with my wife, Kathy, outside the Starbucks in Marble Falls, Texas, overlooking the river, on a pleasant summer morning.
Sharing afternoon coffee with my dad on the back porch of his house is pretty great, too.
And of course, when my brother David and I rode Amtrak, sitting together and sipping our coffee was pretty great. (He managed to keep most of it out of the chin whiskers he had at the time!)
Some other great cups of coffee I’ve had:
- On a frosty West Texas morning at a Boy Scout campout, gathered around a warm campfire;
- Sitting with a neighbor, looking at pictures of her grandkids;
- Having a cup with dessert while listening to friends visit together at a neighborhood potluck;
- Studying the Bible with friends in our Sunday School class as we sit and sip together.
Coffee is definitely best when shared with good friends, over good conversation. Come by sometime, and let me pour you a cup.