The summons echoes through the house at 9 a.m. Whoever rises from their slumber first is tasked with brewing the pot of coffee for the rest of the house, most often accompanied with the famous borrowed phrase. The rest of the house is resurrected from their beds, hungover and curmudgeonly. The hot, earthy cups of miracle mana are the predominant reason for even waking up. Fresh pots of coffee are the cornerstone of family, both in gatherings and the everyday grind, and one would be hard-pressed to be genuinely upset with a cup in their hand.
Yes, Coffee makes its way into the top 5 five Most Important Things in my family dynamic (nestled comfortably betwixt Music and Comedy), playing the same role in the morning as a cold beer (or 6) does in the evening: family unity. Even on vacations, it isn’t often that the entire family is on the same page, but rest assured everyone will be discussing what happened the night before or telling jokes at the table over cups of java. Many cups. At one point, my brother’s girlfriend felt that she could never keep the coffee drinking pace that my family was so accustomed too, though as it stands she seems to be thoroughly indoctrinated.
Over the summer, I did a brief stint in Costa Rica, the 14th largest coffee producing country in the world. Needless to say, I was thrilled to experience excellent coffee at a fraction of the price that I would pay in the States. While I was correct about both of those ideas, I was appalled to discover the dearth of half & half (or cream, depending on your origin) in Latin American countries. The purists simply live a “black with sugar” life while others use the only dairy product readily available in the Costa Rican household: powdered creamer. By the end of the trip, I was sure if I had to drink one more cup of coffee with sugar (cream only for me, thanks) or powdered creamer, I would either have a meltdown or go milk the cow myself.
While coffee in the U.S. might be too broad of a subject, coffee in New England is topic in which I am well versed. I’ve lived in New England my entire life, and in the middle of the Venn Diagram of N.E. and coffee sits Dunkin Donuts. The enterprise is the poster child for coffee in my region, and surely gets their namesake for a reason, right?
I might exaggerate in saying I’ve never had a good cup of coffee from Dunks, but I can sure as hell count them on one hand. The only time I’ve had worse coffee was a time when I reused the coffee grounds from a day before to see if it would work (spoiler: it really does not). I swear Dunkin Donuts pours their joe through a sweat sock that they might change on a “very frequent” monthly basis. In my experience, the coffee machines at DD’s have two settings: diluted tap water, or battery acid that melts straight through your goddamned Styrofoam cup.
Surely, there are people that disagree with my aggressive stance on Dunkin Donuts. “I need it to even wake up, I don’t really mind how it tastes,” or “hey now, Dunks Iced Caramel Swirl Whipped Pansy Nectar actually taste pretty good!” To these people I can say only a.) Godspeed with your 9-5 every day and b.) If I wanted that, I would stick a quart of Breyers in the microwave and drink that. While it may represent New England’s coffee crowd, I don’t find myself adhering to that crowd anytime soon.
Despite all the pejorative coffee talk, in my mind resides an abundance of memories in which coffee plays a leading role. Cool autumn evenings, sitting by the koi pond with my parents while the sun dips over the horizon, sooner and sooner each day. The brisk air contrasts perfectly with the steaming hot cup of coffee, drank steadily to keep your body temperature regulated. For me, it is especially meaningful, marking the days in my life in which I can sit and talk with my parents as people, not as doting Mom and Dad. We can recline and enjoy each other’s company, taking a deep appreciation of the dull murmurs of the wind in the trees. On weekends, the sun will rise and fresh pots will be ready once again.