My Coffee Odyssey

Kids, cake and coffee

Kids, cake and coffee

Coffee has always been with me except for a few times when I thought it best to quit it, but I soon came back to my senses. When I was eye level to the stove, I watched bubbles bouncing in the clear glass knob on top of the percolator. My folks drank the brew in the mornings and with friends at the kitchen table when they came to visit. In the early 1970s, they discovered freeze-dried instant coffee. For my folks, instant coffee was akin to the advance in travel from horse-drawn carriage to train. No more pot to clean, no more messy grinds to toss, just boiling water over a spoon of flavor crystals, and they had an easy cup of caffeinated awfulness. At about 12 years old, this instant drink-of-adulthood was my first taste of coffee. I almost spit it out, but I persevered.


Ripening coffee cherries at Goleta’s Good Land Organics

In my first apartment, I used a drip coffee maker. Later I copied my sister and bought a Bunn that featured a hot water reservoir. The machine started gurgling and brewing right away so the usual wait while the older model heated water was avoided. A few years later, I avoided all waiting, thanks to the Digital Revolution. With a coffee maker featuring a programmable timer, I went to bed knowing that my automated servant would have a hot pot of brown brew ready for me in the morning. ‘Thank you, Mr. Mocha, that will be all for now.’

Harvesting at just the right color and ripeness

Harvesting at just the right color and ripeness

At that point in my coffee-drinking odyssey, I had experienced coffee only as grounds to be scooped from a can or jar. I have an old friend to thank for introducing me to The Bean. This same friend once asked me to run to the store for butter. We were prepping food for the company picnic the next day. At the store I found a five-pound tub of margarine on sale. Proud of my find, I brought it back to him and said, “Look at all this butter I found on sale.”

Looking askance at the tub, he said, “That’s not butter.”

“What do you mean,” I said. “It is, too, butter.”

“No, it’s not.”

“Yes, it is.”

“That’s not real butter,” he insisted. And that’s when I had my “ah ha” butter moment. All my life, I had been using margarine while thinking of it as butter.

When my friend organized the coffee station at work with whole beans from SLO Roasted Coffee and a grinder in the early 1990s, I had my “ah ha” coffee moment. “You mean coffee comes from beans?”

Since then, the shiny black pearls of wonder have been my choice. Thank you my friend, for butter and The Bean.

Bean me, Mr. Mocha

Bean me, Mr. Mocha

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Good Land Organics

Margaret Lange is a poet, writer, and singer/songwriter who is at the tail end of completing her first CD. She founded the Sky World Poetry Series, hosted “The Spoken Word” on Excellent Radio, and taught poetry in the schools with California Poets in the Schools. She lives in a rural town on the Central Coast of California where she can often be found in her kitchen fiddling with food.

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