I grew up amidst coffee drinkers. My mother was Head Coffee drinker because she didn’t just love having her cup of coffee. She loved everything coffee. Coffee milk, coffee ice cream, coffee-flavored cakes and cookies. She began the morning with a few cups of coffee, to jump-start her day, then eased down by adding more and more milk until it was officially coffee milk.
As a kid, I didn’t like the taste of coffee. Which my mother could not comprehend. There were so many things about me she could not understand. Like how come I couldn’t sew, crochet, knit, sculpt, hook rugs, or play ice hockey. And why I didn’t love coffee.
It turned out, I would eventually love coffee, but not until later. The rest of it? Nope, sorry.
I went to live in Israel when I was 30. Everywhere in the middle east, coffee is The Brew That Is True. It isn’t only that everyone lives from one caffeine fix to the next. Coffee is ceremonial. Coffee is how you welcome guests.
This is how it works. As long as the coffee continues, you are welcome. When tea is served, say your good byes and go home. If you are in an Arab household (or the household of anyone who observes Arab or Bedouin customs), this is important to know.
Mediterranean boiled coffee, also known as Turkish coffee, Greek coffee, Armenian coffee, Arab coffee, Bedouin coffee … and who knows how many other names — with or without cardamom — is boiled in a special pot. A feenjon.
These little round pots come in many sizes. You put in whatever amount of coffee you want to serve, add enough water, usually a good dose of sugar, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, boil to a rising again. After the third rising, serve. It’s an honor to get the froth.
This is very strong coffee. I don’t know whether it will put hair on your chest, but it will probably strip the paint from your car. It was the first coffee I really liked.
Shortly thereafter, I discovered Israeli “upside down” coffee which is a variation on a theme of café au lait. Eventually, I just loved any good coffee and still do. Because there’s something about coffee and nothing else hits that spot.
My day does not begin until I have consumed at least one big cup and I’m not ready to deal with reality until I’ve gotten half way through the second.
My brew is coffee.
My second choice? Some other version of coffee.
After that? How about a cappuccino?