There is little I love more in this world than the smell of coffee. Do I love the *taste* of coffee that much? Goodness, no; not at all. But the smell? Oh my gosh, yes; sign me up every day for a big old whiff of fresh coffee grounds or coffee brewing. I freaking adore it.
Is this because I grew up smelling the coffee pot brewing at all times of the day as a kid? That’s probably part of it. Coffee was a constant ritual for my parents, but especially for my dad. The man has been known to drink coffee at all hours of the day. Seriously; he will wake up in the middle of the night, brew a pot, drink some coffee, and then go back to bed. What?! Also, how?!?! But the real ritual I remember is him sharing coffee breaks with his farming partners, his dad and uncle (my Grandpa Tim and his twin, my Great Uncle Bill, who was my bonus fifth grandparent growing up). These would also happen at any given time of the work day when two or all three of them would park it on the high stools that surrounded our kitchen island and drink coffee out of small, white with brown stripe-detail Correlle mugs. Topics of conversation? Shooting the breeze on farming, the weather, and politics, or just sitting in silence, sipping coffee. I can see these coffee chats vividly in my mind, still, and the smell of Foldgers or Maxwell House or whatever brand of coffee was being bought at the time stays strong in my memory, too.
My own journey with coffee drinking didn’t really start until college when friends and I would travel from Crete, NE the 25-30 minutes it took us to get to Lincoln to set up camp and study at The Coffee House, located downtown in the capitol city. Except even then I didn’t really drink coffee-coffee. I loved the smell of it, sure, but the taste? Gross. So instead I ordered every fluffy drink possible on their menu, settling on an Irish Mocha as my favorite because it was mostly chocolate, flavored syrup, and whipped cream, not coffee. And maybe it was green? We would stay at the CoHo for hours, often until closing, nursing those drinks and taking in all the funky art, interesting people, and classic coffee house sounds and smells while working on essays and other homework. I loved The Coffee House dearly and was very happy to continue visiting it during grad school when I spent two years living in Lincoln. To this day, whenever I’m back in the Star City, I try to make a stop there; however, I can’t say I’ve had an Irish Mocha in close to decades at this point.
What upped my coffee game from fluff to the real stuff? Parenthood and Keurigs. I couldn’t drink enough coffee to justify having an actual coffee maker with a full pot attached to it (I’d totally get the shakes), but a single serve coffee that I could have once or twice a day, depending on how crappy my sleep had been the previous night?! Sign! Me! Up! A K-cup or two a day became my not-so-guilty pleasure for years until the excess of waste in those dumb little cups got to me and I had to say no more. Full disclosure: I wasn’t often drinking just straight coffee during those times. I was definitely still doctoring it with some sort of creamer or another. Fuller disclosure? During those days I also loved a hot McCafe Mocha from McDonalds; so much so that toddler Harrison associated Micky D’s with coffee (for me!) more than with nuggets like most toddlers would do. In those early months of parenting two little Littles, I spent many an afternoon driving HD and RL around the countryside (it was the ONLY way to get them both to nap) only after first grabbing myself a nice hot mocha on the way out of town.
Five kids in, though, and Ben and I both needed some caffeine to make it through the long days. We finally bit the bullet and bought our first real coffee maker. It wasn’t anything fancy but it also felt a little bit like a space ship; Ben was the one who knew how to load it and run it, not me. However, that sucker pumped out some strong stuff and as much as I wanted to keep drinking it, we eventually had to say no more to this, too. Even though I loved sticking my face in the open bag of grounds when Ben was prepping the space machine, my body was loud and clear that I couldn’t handle access to that much coffee.
Thus began my years-long dance with no coffee, coffee, tea, and fake coffees. Add in the fact that my dietary needs shifted and I couldn’t do milk/dairy-based creamers, and it’s safe to say the process to finding what works has been, um, unique. These days I do Dirty Rasa which does contain some real coffee but is mostly mushrooms and other adaptogens that I make with a French Press. I use almond or oat-based creamers, and it satisfies my coffee needs without the shakes. And, bonus, the smell of the opened bag is just as phenomenal as regular coffee grounds! That said, I do still love a good drive-thru coffee (but not from McDonald’s) where I order, every time, an Oatmilk Caramel Latte. Because, yum.
Will I ever drink it in the middle of the night? Well, I don’t think so, but I do love a good coffee chat with friends, be at a local coffee shop or in my home, so maybe I’m channeling some of those Moore Brothers Vibes after all. Gotta get me some Correlle, though, to add to my mug collection: