Americans have always had a love affair with coffee. Joe, java, brew, liquid caffeine or whatever you choose to call it, the brown liquid has been a large part of our diet since 1689, when North America’s first coffee house opened in Boston, MA. Cowboys brewed it over open flame, while homesteaders made it on cast iron stoves. Currently, more than 60 percent of American adults consume coffee daily and adults 55 and older drink at least one cup per day. Per year, Americans drink around 150 billion cups of liquid caffeine. Quite a sizeable sum, especially if you consider teens and young adults who also enjoy their daily frappe or latte from Starbucks. The love affair spans the generations. Whether or not this is a good thing remains fodder for future columns, but the fact remains: Americans love their java.
Hubby, daughter and I are avid coffee drinkers. When my husband was still working, he had a Dunkin’ habit that was hard to kick. Our daughter preferred the brew from Starbucks, as did I. When we sat down to figure out how much we were spending monthly on take-out brew, we realized we had a bit of a problem. It was time to cut back.
Our parents and grandparents referred to “coffee” as a jar of Sanka or Savarin, freeze-dried crystals that were bitter to the taste. Home-brewed coffee was reserved for special times, like when company came over. Freeze-dried instant coffees also had an oily residue which I referred to as an “oil slick” over the top of the coffee. This would never be an option for a coffee aficionado like Hubby, who shuddered at the thought of drinking instant coffee.
I will always think of my dad, who drank a cup of Sanka over his puffed rice every morning. I shudder at the memory of that aroma, or rather, malodorous combination.
When Hubby retired, we decided that daily treks to the coffee shop would quickly land us in debt. Years ago, I had gotten a small stove-top percolator from Mom, which had taken up residence in the pantry. After reading a how-to online, I found that I had made one of the finest cups of coffee this side of the Rockies. It was flavorful, full of aroma and fresh. Best of all, it was free. For several months, I made coffee every morning in the stove-top percolator. It was tasty but seemed to be a little light, more like diner coffee, which is a deliciously brewed beverage, but Hubby preferred a more robust brew.
Several years ago, I purchased a French press from IKEA when I realized that my single-serve Bodum press was too small for morning coffee. The IKEA press could accommodate four cups of water, which meant that Hubby and I could each enjoy a cup without having to start the process from the beginning. However, the filter never fully sealed over the grounds. What we ended up with was a mouth full of coffee shards, unless we filtered the coffee through both a handheld strainer and a paper towel. After a few months of this tedious process, we purchased a larger Bodum press from Home Goods off the clearance rack, which was one of the best buys we had made in quite some time. French pressed coffee is rich, full of flavor and usually has a bit of froth on top when poured. It is also delicious and easy to make.
As Hubby and I have been downsizing, we were clearing out the attic and found a few coffee-related “relics”. An old Regal 30-cup coffee maker that had once been used for large gatherings was perched beside our old drip coffee maker and a plug-in percolator used for family get-togethers. I also found an old Moka for espresso. I decided that we would return to their use in the fall when the preferred temperature of coffee is piping hot. While the flavor brewed from these older-styled coffee makers is 100 percent better than a K-cup’s mild flavor, the convenience of a single-serve machine won me over.
Whether you perk, press, drip or use pre-measured pods, coffee is one of Life’s most delicious flavors. A cup in the morning can help to put a bounce in your step, while a sip after dinner is the perfect way to end a wonderful meal. Iced, latte-style, a foamy cappuccino or piping hot in a delightful mug, as Thomas Jefferson stated, “coffee is the favorite drink of the civilized world.” Excuse me while I make myself an Americano.
Patty Servidio is an Anton Media Group columnist.