13 November 2014

Coffee Break

I was thinking about coffee this morning, as mine was brewing. I don't think there are any other food items that I consume every single day. There's also beer, but there are occasional days when I don't drink a beer with my evening meal.

I was first introduced to coffee when I was around five, when my mother added a little to my milk. But I didn't start drinking it with any regularity until near the end of high school. That's also around the time I started visiting Dunkin' Donuts, which is when I discovered what half and half was. Cream was never used in our household, and I guess I had never noticed it in the grocery store either. If you haven't done a direct comparison, coffee with milk tastes markedly different from coffee with cream. (I don't use sugar, it's just more unnecessary calories and I think it ruins the taste of the coffee.)

In college my roommate had a coffee maker, and when I lived alone as a senior I acquired my first one. I couldn't even count how many of them I've had since, but it's probably at least a dozen. I remember a roommate in a house a couple of years out of college having one of the earliest Braun models that used the cone-shaped filters. I was struck by the thought that had gone into the various elements of the design. Of course I wanted one for myself and I did get one, eventually, but it was a few years later.

Around that same time I tried to develop a taste for drinking coffee black because it seemed like a cool thing to do. Aside from the harshness (which cream does an excellent job of mellowing) and the stomach discomfort, I found that with black coffee there was a very small window between "too hot" and "too cold" and I always ended up missing it, so that experiment was short-lived.

It's funny how some people never make coffee at home, and their only relationship to it is through their office or a coffee shop. I guess it goes along with trying to eat breakfast but I've always wanted the ability to have coffee before leaving the house. But there were times when that wasn't always the most convenient option.

In the mid-1980s I worked at the Harvard Coop, back when it was still an independent store that sold things like records, housewares, and non-university-logo clothing. I always worked Saturdays, and the bus I took to work during the week either didn't run on Saturdays or didn't run as frequently, meaning I would have had to get up significantly earlier (unthinkable in one's early 20s) or take a different route.

This also happened to be during the period when the Mass. Ave. bridge was being rebuilt, and as with the Longfellow Bridge now, there were traffic restrictions. The 1 bus had to be rerouted, and the alternate route took it through Kenmore Square, past BU's main campus, and across the BU bridge to Memorial Drive and eventually back to Mass. Ave.

Where I lived at the time, the 57 bus stopped right in front of our house, so on Saturday mornings I'd take that bus down into Kenmore, go into the old Dunkin' that used to be there (back when they still had counter service), get the recently-introduced Big One (20 ounces, which I think corresponds to their current large) for around $1.25, cross the square, and wait for the next 1 bus to come through.

Amazingly, the timing always seemed to work out perfectly, even during the winter. I think there was only one time when I had to forego the coffee and make the bus connection in front of Marsh Chapel in order to get to work on time. And getting that Saturday coffee was something of a treat, a reward for having to get up and go to work while others were sleeping in.

No comments: