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I am returning full circle to a previous love affair. This is not a normal love affair but nonetheless it is one that I share with the majority of the Canadian and broader population. This is my love affair with the coffee bean and the brew that results. More specifically I return to my love of black coffee.

Approximately thirty-six hours ago I decided to begin a self-imposed NO-LATTE, NO-CAPPUCCINO, NO MACCHIATO AND NO CREAM OR MILK IN MY COFFEE MOVEMENT. Given the ceasefire that I havedeclared on my personal wars this is not a battle or a crusade but a well thought out effort that is founded in love and good intentions. This is not aggression or deprivation or anything negative at all, although maybe I feel not so positive about the milk thing.

My love of coffee began very early in my life. I was an experienced coffee aficionado before my friends of the same age had even thought about trying it. In the early 60’s in western Canada at least coffee was restricted as an “adult” drink and one that you just did not consume as a kid. Superstitions that your growth would be stunted if you drank coffee abounded and although I am in fact short as an adult I believe there is much more to that than my coffee consumption.

Saturday morning trips to the local grocery store with my father to get the weekly provisions were at first not my favorite thing to do but it was something that I endured. After dropping my mother off at her place of work, my dad would wake me up saying “it is time to go and get the groceries”. Why he woke me up and not my older brother or my only slightly younger sister is a question that came to mind then and now but no worries because this is where the love affair began. Sure I had watched my parents and other relatives drinking coffee at home and at any other function we attended but I was busy playing and really paid no mind. Instead it was during these Saturday morning grocery trips that my love of coffee emerged.

We would grab our cart and head directly for the middle aisle where the coffee and tea were displayed. I attributed my father’s love of real coffee, that is beans, to his having grown up in Europe where fresh beans are ground for the pot and instant coffee was only used in emergencies like when there were no fresh beans. A paper bag was carefully placed below the spout of the coffee grinder ready to receive the freshly ground coffee. A portion of the glistening dark beans were selected and just before they disappeared into the top of the grinder my dad would take out a small handful of beans. As the grinder was doing its thing, he would hand me a few of the aromatic little things.

The first time this happened I was not sure what was expected of me but being a quick learner I got it. The aroma of the fresh beans was the first delight and has resulted in my ever-present love of anything that smells like coffee. There was something magical about the pungent yet sweet enchanting fragrance. What came next was a bit of a shock but again something I eased into quite quickly. I watched as my dad put a few beans in his mouth and proceeded to chew on them as if they were candy. Really? Yes really, give it a try he said and I did. Crunchy like very hard candy but nothing like candy. The mix of the bitterness of the beans and the release of the smooth coffee flavour gave me a strong attachment to the taste of coffee. Digging into my pockets for any remaining beans was enough to keep me happy for the rest of the shop-up. That this ritual had an element of mischievousness to it also got my attention and held my interest. Those trips to the grocery store kept their enchantment for a while and at least long enough to dull the memory of never getting to sleep-in on Saturdays.

That I have instituted the NO-LATTE, NO-CAPPUCCINO, NO MACCHIATO AND NO CREAM OR MILK IN MY COFFEE MOVEMENT has returned me to my true appreciation of coffee just plain black coffee. I have enjoyed my years of milk laden coffee drinks and would be deceiving myself if I thought that I will restrict myself to black coffee from this day forward however, this shift in behaviour has reacquainted me with my old love and I am enjoying the reunion.

Irene McDermott © 2012