(10 minutes on coffee)
Every Sunday we wait in the hall until they are done praying...then we stream in . Going straight to the back right hand corner. Hoping for a white and red box because if we are lucky, someone brought donuts. But even if they didn't we still fill our cups from the silver urn. Most of the other kids mixing in more creamer and sugar than coffee.
I added nothing.
And drank quick hot sips. The coffee burned my tongue and throat and the bitterness shocked my taste buds.
But I still took my coffee black.
I was 10 years old. And in a church dress with skinned knees and scuffed white sandals.
I never drank coffee at home. But on Sundays I would pour a cup and take hot courting sips while picking at the styrofoam edge.
Something about taking my coffee black made me feel tough.
Tough as I sipped it in my floral dress.
The bitterness I pushed down my throat felt somehow familiar. And it would be something I forced myself to swallow for years.
This was years before coffee shops or Starbucks and no one would dream of paying more than 50 cents for a cup.
My dad had spent some years in Italy, and later. When we would go to fancy resturaunts he'd take an espresso or a caffe corretto. And occasionally they'd bring him those tiny cups filled with strong black espresso and add a shot of cognac. He'd pass it to me. This time maybe I was 16. After he had stirred in two sugar cubes. The cognac burned as much as the heat.
He bought an espresso maker an a whim, upstairs in the home goods department of Foleys. Mostly I think because he wanted an excuse to buy those cute and tiny cups and saucers.
Expresso was hard to find. But their was a specialty shop in town that carried it and occasionally he'd buy a bag. Ask the to grind it fine for espresso. And I'd drink those
things while I stayed up late cramming for my calculus tests. My stomach had already started to bleed. From the coffee. From the alcohol. And all the other things I kept inside.
Coffee shops were now a thing. And me and my friends trying to act older and sophisticated would go to the college coffee shops and order snickers lattes and talk about music or boys or where we were going to college and what we might major in. Our drinks filled with whipped cream and chocolate syrup were about us immature and unsophisticated as we were.
Eventually I went off to college. And there were more coffee shops and late nights at ihop stirring those cups and sipping coffee well into the am.
I drank espresso shake. And machiatos. Until my stomach burned. Because I was not made for all the bitterness I had been swallowing hidden in syrups and whipped cream.
Eventually I had to switch to tea.
I drank tea for years. And took my bitterness in other forms.
But eventually Starbucks won out. There was one on every corner. And I'd order a machiato and sit and read ôr chat with friends until my coffee had grown cold.
Eventually those syrupy drinks got to sweet. And I switched to lattes. But the milk often made me sick. So for the last few years I've ordered Americanos.
Dark strong espresso, with hot water.
Unlike my 10 year old self. I had a little bit of cream and a little bit of sweet. Because I am done with bitter.