Let’s Have Another Cup Of Coffee

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


6 responses to “Let’s Have Another Cup Of Coffee

  1. Nice blog, Bill – a kindred soul! I’m also ex-corporate, consultant, mentor, serial entrepreneur and busy spreading the experiences. You’re welcome to visit and I will sign up for you

    • Tony, I enjoyed reading your blog and appreciate your comments on segmentation—such a simple concept that I am always surprised when people just don’t get it. Still working, I’m not yet ex-anything. Please stay in touch.

  2. Three things I love about this post.
    1. The quote at the end is priceless
    2. The truth about takng time to get to know people and
    3. Your story about drinking coffee as a child. Being Cajun French I grew up in a household where cafe-au-lait was a staple. My grandpa would pour 1/2 cup of scalded milk into a cup, fill it the rest of the way with chicory coffee and add 3 T of sugar. It was a gasronomical delight and a sugar rush. But the best part of it was watching my grandpa make the concoction, then he and I and my brother sitting at the table and enjoying our coffee together. Great memories.

    • Every Saturday and Sunday morning, I make “coffee milk” for my wife. With a couple of modern day twists, the recipe is very similar to that of your grandpa:

      I microwave for one minute, a large mug one-third full of low-fat milk; I add two teaspoons of sugar (or artificial sweetener) and then, with a small whisk, whisk the milk for thirty seconds; when the milk is frothy, I gently fill the cup with strong black coffee. It makes my spouse very happy.

  3. OK, this has got me salivating, so while my coffee brews a few thoughts and recollections on the wonderful brew of the dark bean. I have been drinking freshly brewed coffee since I was, well, small and mum used to make coffee simply in a pan on the stove (a poor man’s version of the 2 chamber coffee pot for espresso). When the coffee bar trend hit London in the 60’s I was there soaking up the jazz and blues scene and drinking the concentrated outflowings from the Gaggia machines – those great, chrome-plated, many levered, hissing contraptions from Italy. Well, the coffee bar scene slowly died away (that’s a whole other story) and I went through some lean years drinking instant c***.
    As a mature adult I started experimenting to find the ideal way to make coffee once more. The cafetiere (or French press) was starting to become popular but I never really enjoyed the result – two problems; one was that the coffee never really had a clean taste or texture and the other was so many people shovelled in the coffee and poured boiling water over, resulting in a bitter, scalded taste. Anything that involved boiling water or steam produces a bitter result. Regretfully, I have yet to taste anything from any of the new breed of high-street coffee houses that does anything for me and I rate Starbucks at the bottom of the pile.
    Success came when I bought an electric drip machine – here was a result that was clean tasting, added nothing and really brought out the flavour. I find two measures (around a heaped teaspoon size) per person for a medium sized mug produces the best result. Oh, and you have to grind fresh beans each time and drink it straight away not letting it sit on the hotplate and stew. I now use neither sugar or milk / cream.
    I’ve tried coffees from around the world but my all-time favourite indulgence used to be a coffee from the Galapagos Islands (bet you never knew they grew coffee there!); this was very expensive but simply sublime. Alas, the importer ceased bringing it in (or the crop failed or something) but now I drink a coffee from Peru called Peruvian Pangoa, a medium-dark roast with a lovely chocolaty, nutty flavour (available from my favourite local shops / cafes / restaurants here in the UK – mail order Bettys http://www.bettys.co.uk/) .

    • After having tried every type of coffee maker and coffee, I gave up on finding the perfect cup. Now, many days I’m perfectly happy with Folgers – very strong – made in a drip maker. Thank you for the fun and informative comment.

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