Kudos to those creatures of morning who can shower, dress, and be off to work before their first cup of coffee. Me, within moments opening my eyes and rolling out of my sleepy cocoon, I’m making my first cup.
Coffee is what makes getting out of bed worthwhile. When it’s time to get up and I feel the lure of drifting off into the warm, ineluctable embrace of unconsciousness, it’s the thought of coffee that saves me.
Every day, some 90 percent of Americans ingest some sort of
caffeine; about 64 percent of us drink coffee. All kinds of health benefits (many of them already proven true for mice) have been claimed: Coffee is good for the heart; it’s protective against cancer; it may prevent diabetes; it lowers the risk of Parkinson’s and dementia. On the other hand, coffee can be bad for your heart; it may cause diabetes; it can interact badly with medications and cause osteoporosis, heartburn, insomnia, anxiety or palpitations.
These days, coffee is on the upswing, selling better than ever; most of us believe it is good ’n good for ya! This was not always so; there was an initial period of moral turpitude. European suspicions about
coffee – the devil’s brew – arose when the precious beans made their way from the land of Islam to Christian Italy and France, circa 1600. It was just too wonderfully stimulating. Women complained about husbands’ intemperate loitering at coffeehouses, neglecting their duties (including those in bed) and families at home. The story goes that Pope Clement VIII himself had to taste and approve coffee before some of the hubbub died down.
Loitering at coffeehouses has been a salubrious activity for me. And I’m grateful I live in an era and place where women are permitted to gather in public to loiter ... and drink coffee. Many’s the friend I’ve made in a coffeeshop gathering, discovering common ground and sharing a laugh. (So much better than alcohol, where spurious attractions become surprising retractions in the sober light of day.)
Best of all is to visit a friend who knows your coffee predilections, or even your coffee indulgences. At home, I make strong coffee and add a quantity of hot skimmed milk … my acquiescence to age and cholesterol. But I have a friend who makes me a coffee treat whenever I show up. She gets out the dark, rich-smelling grind and measures up a fresh pot. As it brews, she heats some sweetened half-and-half, froths it with an electric mini-whisk, pours in the hot coffee and treats me to a rich, foamy latte, no questions asked.
How better to prepare for a good long talk? What other recipe to restore the soul? There is nothing better than a visit, a friend, a comfy couch and that medium of good conversation: a great cup of coffee.