Long before coffee and I discovered a mutual affinity for one another, I took an occasional cup during winter months to warm my hands when working on Navy aircraft in Brunswick, Maine. I wore gloves, the heavy, woolen kind, but some of the more tedious maintenance jobs required bare fingers for intricate work. My fingers froze fast in the sub-zero temperatures, and numbed to the point that I could barely flex them. They never quite turned blue, but a hot cup of coffee held between my hands made them feel better right away. I loved the aroma of coffee, but never acquired the taste to drink more than a few sips.
That changed when my folks visited me one year. Lifelong coffee drinkers, I knew they would expect coffee when they woke in the morning. I procured the necessary implements and ingredients, and proudly displayed the results of my thoughtfulness on the kitchen counter, much to their joy and, I am sure, relief. Once they departed for home in Florida, I didn’t want the coffee to go to waste, so I finished the jar of instant coffee and discovered that – joy of joys! – mornings rose brighter, the day began with more promise, and my normal chipper mood increased in cheerfulness.
The rest of my Navy career saw my taste in coffee grow in sophistication. From paper cups to ceramic mugs to venti bold. From instant coffee at home, to coffee mixed with aircraft fuel aboard ship. From generic beans to gourmet blends. I once bought ten pounds of coffee in Muscat, Oman so bold that it should have carried a skull and crossbones warning.
I make coffee at home now, and carry it with me to work on my long commute. I also buy coffee from Starbucks on my days off from work. It seems like habit now, driving to Starbucks two to three times a week to spend three bucks on a cup of coffee. But I take my dogs with me and call it their weekly road trip, and just happen to pass by Starbucks. That eases my guilt somewhat over inheriting such a bad habit from mom and dad.