I don’t drink coffee.
Most people react to this statement with disbelief. They stare at me with widened eyes and open mouths before peppering me with such questions as “Why not?” and “What’s wrong with you?”
There’s not enough bandwidth or time to properly answer that last question. As for coffee, unlike my aversion to peanut butter – another admission that folks struggle to understand – I don’t have anything against coffee. In fact, I enjoyed a cup a day for 20 years or so.
If memory serves, I started drinking coffee around age 11. By Goff Estate standards, that defined me as a late bloomer. I grew up in a family of coffee addicts who still drink the stuff all day. They’ve drunk it for so long that they’re immune to its caffeinated effects. Indeed, my mom and oldest sister have fallen asleep whilst drinking coffee.
At any time of the day, you’re likely to hear my mom, my sisters, or my nieces ask, “Whose turn is it to make a pot?” They go through coffee pots like they’re paper plates. Once, when Mother’s coffee pot started misbehaving, I said, “You’ve only had it for little more than a year and a half. Oh, wait, I guess that’s the life expectancy for a coffee pot around here.”
Of course, a single cup of instant coffee is not out of the question, either. Some people don’t care for what my late father referred to as boiled coffee. During my coffee-drinking days, I couldn’t tell the difference between instant and what he called percolated coffee. It all tasted the same to me.
Even back then, though, I wasn’t interested in anything like espresso or zucchini spiced mocha latte. And I’ll never grasp the concept of iced coffee. At the Goff Estate, iced coffee means you’ve talked so much that your previously-warm coffee needs “hottened up.”
Anyway, in adulthood, I finally sought help for my migraines. During a consultation with my doctor, he advised me to rid my life of caffeine. I complied, curbing my intake of chocolate, switching to caffeine free soda (that didn’t last), and quitting coffee.
If this change in lifestyle resulted in night tremors or hallucinations, I don’t remember them. Nor did I look at a cup of coffee with regret and longing.
Fast forward a decade or so later. Whilst making shortbread cookies one Christmas, my taste buds recalled that I had savored coffee with those cookies. Suddenly, I decided that one cup wouldn’t hurt. I poured some coffee and nibbled on a cookie as I waited on it to cool. As soon as I was sure it would not burn my tongue, I put the cup to my mouth, experienced my first sip of coffee in years and immediately said, “Yuck.”
It tasted terribly bitter and dern-near ruined the cookie. It also reminded me that when it comes to coffee, I’m not missing a thing.
This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.