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Coffee & Eggs

November 3, 2010

I’ve never been a huge coffee drinker, which is a bit odd since tribes of them surround me. I grew up in a household where my mother brewed a full pot daily and proceeded to down the last drop by herself. I sometimes wonder what sort of person my mother would be without her entire pot of coffee a day habit.

And now, I’m married to a man I’ve learned through the years to not even so much as look at before he’s showered and poured at least one cup of really strong stuff and sipped it in silence (bar ESPN’s Sportscenter). I don’t set coffee meetings (I make cocktail, lunch, or dinner plans), and I’ve just never (even in my time spent on overnight rotations in news) felt like I couldn’t live without coffee. And I’ve had good coffee–Hawaiian, Costa Rican, Jamaican–though never been a fan of Starbucks, or as it’s referred to in my house, ‘burnbucks’ or ‘bitterbucks’ (they over-roast their beans, big time).

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do drink coffee. I like the ritual of it at home, the smell, the coffeemaker waking me up in the morning with its handy timer set to go off and rouse us out of bed. I like the kind of beans we buy and that we grind them finely ourselves. I like the way we make it. I like to add a teeny bit of turbinado sugar to it and I like the brand of organic half and half I buy. I like the white Crate & Barrel mugs that are one of the only things from our wedding registry dishes that aren’t missing from the set–-dinner plates and cereal bowls, that’s a whole other story.

But, the truth of it is this—I’ve never had a coffee drink. You know, my drink. Honestly, I never know what to order and usually settle for basic black that I doctor to resemble my coffee at home. As a matter for fact, I don’t even know what I like. I know my husband’s order (Americano with room), my older sister’s (skinny latte with a shot of peppermint), my twin sister’s (varies between time of day and runs the gamut of simple drip to lattes and cappuccinos), and my mom’s (no-nonsense black). In our world of coffee culture, wi-fi, and mobile offices, I’m supposed to know what I like to drink in the morning; society wants me to know these things. Every office I’ve ever worked in had the drill of sending the interns on a Starbucks run. I’d take so long trying to decide I’d just tell them to forget it and get back to doing whatever I was doing before the sweetly gestured interruption.

It all reminds me of that scene in Runaway Bride, the “how do you like your eggs?” moment where Julia Roberts’s Maggie character makes every sort of egg imaginable and ends up with Benedict as the only one she likes, after years of poached, whites-only, and scrambled with dill to appease whomever she was engaged to. Taking that time to figure out what you like. Not what everyone else likes, what you like.

And then it happened. I got my drink. While in Europe over the summer, at any cafe I’d just simply order a coffee with milk without even thinking about it. Though, unlike in my home kitchen, I wouldn’t add sugar because of the decadence of the whole milk, and also unlike at home, coffee there often means espresso and milk means steamed milk. These rich coffees were lovely and I wanted one every single morning. So, there you have it. I’m a cafe au lait. After all these years of skirting around the coffee culture, I finally have a drink worth ordering.