The best part of waking up

Published 8:49 pm Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The dictionary defines a habit as “a recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition.” I have many habits, some good, some bad, but one that I have had for going on for 40 years is the drinking of coffee every morning.

I was surprised to find that my particular brand of coffee, Maxwell House, is not the country’s favorite. Its slogan “good to the last drop” is second to the brand that makes the claim “the best part of waking up is Folger’s in your cup.”

Legend has it that coffee was discovered in Ethiopia during the ninth century when a goat herder by the name of Kaldi noticed the excited and jumping nature of his goats after they ate some red berries. Kaldi had an exciting life. He gathered some of the berries and took them to a monk who disapproved of the berries and threw them in a fire.

The berries, as they were burning, created a very pleasant aroma, much better than the goat herder, and the berries were raked out of the fire, ground up and put in some water. The brown result was not exactly a Starbuck’s Caramel Macchiato, but it is supposedly the first cup of java. If you believe all of that, I have some oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you.

My first remembrance of coffee probably dates back not to the ninth century, but to my ninth year, or so. I spent the night at my Granddaddy’s and Big Mama’s home and woke up to the sound of a percolator and the smell of coffee in the kitchen.

Every time I think of that percolator, I think of the Maxwell House commercial of the 1960s and how it began with one small “pop,” and, before long, it was popping or percolating in rhythm. I would think many of you who are reading this might now have that rhythmic percolation running through your coffee-stimulated brain. Sorry.

My daddy and mother drank instant coffee in those days and the only thing I remember about coffee at our house was the whistling of the kettle on the stove as the water began to boil.

At Big Mama’s house, though, the aroma of the coffee was exhilarating, and I wanted a cup. In those days, the wants and wishes of children were just as important as they are today. We might not have been  indulged as much, but this little boy would get a saucer and cup just like Granddaddy’s, except mine was with just a little of bit of coffee and a whole lot of milk and sugar. Still, I was a big boy drinking coffee.

Another thing I remember was the way my Granddaddy drank his coffee. In these days of Joe DiMaggio’s Mr. Coffee machines, the coffee is good, but not quite as hot as that of a percolator. Granddaddy would pour some of his coffee into his saucer, let it cool a moment, and then drink it, maybe even slurp it, from the saucer.

I understand that would not have been the way the guests at the Waldorf Astoria would have drank their coffee, but Granddaddy wasn’t at the Waldorf. He was at his table in his house, and that’s the name of that tune! Have a “cup-a-joe” on me.