Java 101


Java 101

It was 1965, my freshman year at the University of Wyoming, and once again I was venturing out into the world by going home for the first time with a college friend. On our first night in her hometown, we dressed up and drove to the “Halfway House,” halfway between Worland and Thermopolis, for three inch steaks and, even though we were all just 18, because her parents had called ahead with permission, for one Sloe Gin Fizz or Tom Collins each.

The next morning, we awoke with aching heads and fuzzy tongues to the smell of coffee–Pat’s mother at the kitchen table pouring a cup for each of us, refilling her own mug, refilling the pot with water and more coffee and setting it back on the burner to perk.

For the four days we were there, the pot was never turned off between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., and it was never empty except for the minute between pouring the last cup and filling it up to perk a new one.

We were a caffeine society predating the caffeine craze of the 90’s. The later craze coincided, not coincidentally, with the formation of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers and stricter drunk driving laws; but in the 60’s and 70’s, we drank coffee as an antidote to hangovers, not as a replacement!

It was a shared vice for which we could imagine no drawbacks. No calories. No fat. Pretty cheap. Unlike the cigarettes we all lit up to accompany our coffee drinking and talks around the table, there was not the least whisper of any negative effects of coffee. It kept us awake during studying for finals and during long nighttime drives between towns in Dakota and Wyoming and helped us wash down our NoDoz. (more caffeine!)

It would be thirty-five years in our future before we turned from those endless cups of hot java sipped from between swirling curtains of cigarette smoke. Driven by morning coughs, short breath and nagging doctors and kids, we would give up first the cigarettes, then, encouraged by aching joints, insomnia or too many trips to the bathroom, we would give up the coffee.

But still, the biting smell of coffee brewing in a pot or urn conjures up memories of Mack’s cafe, where endless chipped white mugs of coffee marked our maturity from preteens to adults. Those first 100 cups choked down while holding our breaths had inured us–initiated us–led to our addiction to and lust for caffeine–until we loved the acrid taste. Black. No sugar. Aspartame was just a future gleam in some chemist’s eye and no one had heard of latte, mocha, jamocha or espresso. No one had ever heard the word cappuccino except in an occasional spelling bee where it was misspelled along with the rest of the obscure words. Although everyone drank coffee, no one had yet iced it, foamed it or whip creamed it. No one had thought to float chocolate curls or cinnamon in it. We just drank it, like truckers, black–from the ever-plenteous pot.

It is almost 10 a.m. and In the absence of a Daily Prompt, I am declaring my own prompt and inviting anyone who reads this to follow along and post on yesterday’s prompt page, as I am.  The subject is Coffee!!  Make of it what you will.  And please link to this page as well.

Ah, finally, at noon.  Here came the prompt, which is to write about something I did that I’d advise no one else to do.  Well, first of all I’m posting the link to this post and then I’ll see about writing a new one. So instead of not doing as I did, please do do as I did and write an additional prompt today about Coffee and send a link to my blog through comments!

17 thoughts on “Java 101

  1. Victoria

    Loved reading this – I can’t drink coffee black; it has to have plenty of half and half and sugar. and yay for your own prompt! I’ll try to participate once I get my butt out of bed… (I’m typing this comment from my phone, hence its lameness)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marilyn Armstrong

    I am not giving up MY coffee any time soon. I’m running out of bad habits to break and coffee — if indeed it IS a bad habit — is my last. I treasure it. Hug it to my (fake replacement) breasts.

    I never was a drinker. Coffee, from my first cup in Israel when I was just 31, until today, has been all about itself. Never cured anything. Just love it love it need it need it. A day without coffee is like … a day without COFFEE. In the closet, I store a spare brand-new Mr. Coffee (still in the box) because heaven forbid the machine should fail!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. lifelessons Post author

      I went back to drinking it years later. I find if I drink one cup of coffee in the morning and stick to decaf the rest of the day that I can sleep at night (not that I do) and don’t have the stiffness and pain in my joints that drinking caffeine all day caused. And, fewer trips up to the bathroom during the night..


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  4. alhowlinwater

    My first memories of coffee were at my Grandmother. I think my Mom and Dad drank coffee but they never made a ritual of it. My relatives on my Mother’s side were pretty much Swedish immigrants. At my Grandmother’s and my Aunt Signe’s, there was plenty of black coffee always served with cube sugar either in a china bowl or right out of the C & H box. My aunts and uncles would put the cube sugar in their mouths and suck their coffee through the sugar cube aspirating just slightly kind of like the sound your straw makes as you reach the bottom of your soda. The coffee drinkers are a little less raucous than teenagers finishing their sodas. I never witnessed this ritual anywhere but at my Swedish relatives or their Swedish friends. Coffee always came with cube sugar. I eventually came to want my coffee black a few years later. My Grandpa also introduced me to beer. I couldn’t have been more than 3 or 4 years old. He would give me a shot glass of I’m not sure if it was Olympia or Rainier but I felt as if I was one of the adults. Coffee and beer! What other beverages do you need, other than an occasional shot of good Tequila, and black coffee.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lifelessons Post author

      In Holland, they would have a long cane of crystallized sugar–like a big tubular sucker made of very large crystals. This would be hung by a string from the lamp or ceiling over the table and everyone would just dunk it in their coffee to sweeten it. Have you ever heard of this custom before?


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  6. Relax

    I have tried so many in the shops and by bag, and since I always preferred DnD coffee at their shops, I’ve been buying bags of their (unflavored) ground coffee. How I look forward to starting my day with it! Sometimes, I finish my day with it, too! Oddly, it doesn’t keep me awake at night.

    Liked by 1 person

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