Family · Food, if we must · Memories


I drink exactly one cup of coffee a day. I even write it in my planner, right under “feed Zoey.” It says COFFEE. I love my coffee. It’s here beside me right now, while the house is quiet and there’s still an hour or so before daylight.

Coffee was a forbidden adult beverage of my childhood. It would stunt your growth! Of course, now I know that it wouldn’t affect our growth, but the caffeine and sugar would make us even wilder little creatures than we were, and our parents were smart.

But when my brothers and I spent the night with our grandparents, Mama Bea and John Da, we were allowed to have coffee at breakfast. Everybody pretended it was a secret that we got it, and of course we didn’t really like it, but it was special. I actually thought for years that my grandparents’ pastel melamine cups were magic, because my grandparents used instant coffee, and from my viewpoint, John Da poured clear water from the kettle into the cups, but what rose up and filled the cups was coffee! I was a shy child, and for a long time I wondered how that sorcery worked.

Nana, my mother’s mother, did NOT use instant coffee. She also didn’t let us have any. It’s probably for the best, because she drank her coffee black, jet fuel strong, and scalding hot. No modern drip coffee maker could make the coffee hot enough for her. She used a percolator (with the bubble on top) that boiled the coffee ferociously and kept it that way. You didn’t mess with Nana’s coffee. It could hurt you.

She didn’t use a mug. Coffee cooled off too much if it took too long to drink. She drank it one cup at a time from her Franciscan Apple cups, using a pinch of salt “to remove the bitterness.”


I though of Nana’s coffee this morning. Mine tasted bitter, more than usual, so I tried the pinch of salt trick. It actually sort of works, although I don’t know how. The Google says that some think it tricks your brain into tasting the salt instead of the bitterness, but I couldn’t really taste salt. The coffee just tasted better. And made me think of my grandparents.

I have finished my cup now. It’s getting light. Time to start the day. Enjoy your coffee.


3 thoughts on “Coffee

  1. I love this and was instantly transported to your kitchen and Aunt Jeannene and to Ruby’s kitchen perhaps at war with your dad over ‘Ole Miss and Bama! Mostly I’m taken back to mornings with our grandfather , John Da, with him sharing his coffee with me when I was still sitting on his knee! He floated chunks of biscuit in it and I would beg for more. Who knew he was caffeinating me for the day!
    I didn’t like coffee until I started teaching high school and now I count on it each morning with honey and lots of SF flavored creamer. Thanks for the memories sweet Cousin 👍

  2. I love remembering the kitchens of our childhoods. Nana’s was always warm and cozy and she had tiny lamps and a million tchochkes. It smelled delicious and when she cooked she dirtied EVERY pan and bowl in the house!At the farm house, I just remember that EVERYBODY was always in the kitchen!

  3. Vivid memories of my moms mother and dad. They would take a biscuit put it in a saucer then pour coffee on it. Then sip or suck on it. Made a big slurping sound, impressive sound for my young ears.

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