My earliest coffee memory is from the mid-60's: my parents would serve coffee to their dinner guests and I would be upstairs eavesdropping well past my bedtime. I heard & saw things that informed me that maybe adults weren't all deserving of respect—but that story is for another time.
I would get up very early, go downstairs & head into the living room. There would be empty wineglasses (those would tempt me moreso in a few years), full ashtrays, chairs in disarray, and the prize I was seeking: the leftovers of the after dinner, pre drive-home, coffee offering.
This was before the 70’s when my dad would make the trek to Commercial Drive to procure the dark-roasted, whole beans he would grind daily in his coffee grinder (not the whirly-blade type) and prepared as a pour-over in a Melita carafe. Their preferred coffee in the 60's was pre-ground in the green MJB tin and it was made in a percolator.
The offering was served in small cups on a saucer. Cream & sugar were provided and usually added and they were my favourite dregs. I would make sure there were no cigarette butts (learned that one the hard way), then I would swirl it around & finish it off. The sweet, creamy elixir was my first introduction to a lifelong addiction/ passion.
A conversation with a sister-in-law, who is Croatian, got me thinking of coffee rituals. She told me her mom would, after a 5 or 6 dish meal, get out the cast iron frying pan, the green beans and start the roast. When the beans got to their desired state, they went into a sieve to cool down and then right into the hand- grinder (a confession: ever since I began roasting 20 years ago or so, I have ground, drank and loved coffee that was fresh out of the roaster, the beans often still warm). Around the table the grinder was passed, everyone taking a turn until tired.
The grind was fine, going into a Turkish pot and, having used a hand-grinder for camp coffee, which is quite coarse, I can only imagine how long it might have taken to grind enough fine coffee for everyone at the table. The resulting powder was sweetened, poured, served and savoured.
I have many more recollections of my relationship with coffee, a beautiful blond girlfriend got me to give up sugar in my coffee (which now makes me gag!); my first espresso machine: a demo Barista that had a notoriously hard-to-get-out grouphead gasket that would invariably get me sporting band aids on my fingers for a few days; my first grinder after Starbucks could never grind the beans the same way twice.
How about you? I would love to hear about your coffee memories. There’s a free coffee drink (redeemable at our Alberta Street shop) to all who reply on our Facebook or Instagram sites with good stories!