Prior to my teen years, my mother would fix “coffee milk” for me. Sweet with milk, sugar and a small amount of coffee, I would sip the cup dry and then scoop the leftover sugar from the bottom of the cup. I never had “real” coffee until my senior year in high school.
Early one Saturday morning, I invited myself to breakfast at the house of a friend. As his mother assembled the meal, she asked if I would like a cup of coffee. When I answered yes, she placed a can of Maxwell House on the counter and told me to make the coffee. She watched as I stared helplessly at the can and then taught me the recipe for coffee that I still use today: one rounded tablespoon of coffee for each cup and one for the pot.
Coffee became a big deal during my freshman year of college when “coffee dates” were de rigueur. In the mid 1960’s, the administration at Florida State University confined freshman girls to their dorm rooms between seven and nine in the evenings on weekdays. At the end of the “quiet hours” was when the dates would occur and we would share time over coffee. Afterwards, fueled by coffee, I would stay up for hours and then struggle to make morning classes.
“C Rations,” a soldier’s “meal in the field,” included instant coffee that was best used in making canned sweet rolls edible. Tightly packed in a two-inch round, green can, the army sweet roll resembled and was as hard as a hockey puck. We would pour hot coffee over the dried confection and after a few minutes of soaking time it would be good to eat. In the “field” we didn’t worry about spilling coffee; it was a different story when working for my father.
Because of some disastrous spills, my dad had a rule that employees were not allowed to drink coffee at their desks. If someone wanted to drink a cup of coffee, they had to find a place away from their work to do so. A benefit of the rule was that it provided him with a reason to drink coffee at locations away from the office: with the president of a local bank; at a local diner with customers; or with me, in a restaurant.
Away from distractions, business questions were easier to deal with. In the mid-morning, in a quiet restaurant, there was time for stories; to talk about sports and fishing and to share concerns—conversations in a relaxed atmosphere lending to inventive problem solving.
Caught up in the hubbub of life, often we neglect spending casual time with our colleagues. A cup of coffee is a good excuse to do so
“It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.” -Dave Barry