Column: Rennie Phillips: Coffee (1/9/21)

Column: Rennie Phillips: Coffee (1/9/21)

Growing up on a cattle ranch in Nebraska, one memory I remember vividly was coffee and snacks. Coffee was served from first thing in the morning until the last thing at night. Mom and Dad had coffee first thing in the morning, then at breakfast, mid-morning coffee break with a snack, dinner, afternoon coffee break with a snack and then coffee for supper. Coffee took center stage. It was served most all day every day.

Dad now and then would make cowboy coffee in an old metal probably gallon coffee can. But normally Mom and Dad made coffee in an old percolator electric pot. One filled the pot with water and then inserted the percolator and basket in and filled it with ground coffee. This was usually Folgers. Put the lid on the basket and then the lid on the percolator pot and then plugged it in. I don’t have a clue how long, but probably 15 or 20 minutes later one had coffee. Scalding hot real black coffee.

Mom drank her coffee black, if memory is correct, but Dad would add some Jersey/Brown Swiss real cream to his. Then he’d add a couple spoons of sugar. His coffee was cooled down considerably by adding the cream. Mom had to wait on hers to cool. The cream from those Jersey/Brown Swiss cross cows was thick. It didn’t pour. You took your spoon and scooped out a chunk of cream. It was a little thicker than Miracle Whip.

I’d have had problems with how Mom drank her coffee. When I get up in the morning, I usually start my coffee on the way to the indoor out house, if I’m not in emergency mode. It takes me about 6 to 7 minutes to make my first cup of coffee and have coffee in my cup. My first cup of coffee is in a 5- or 6-ounce, thick-walled white old restaurant style coffee cup. I pour 200 degree or so coffee into that cup, and it’s almost instantly cooled enough for me to blow and sip. Almost instant relief or comfort or getting that “Ah hah” feeling down in my soul from that first couple swallows of coffee. Don’t really know how to describe the feeling after a few sips of coffee. Until that moment my focus is on coffee!

I’ve got a couple of those super metal insulated cups, but the darn things keep the coffee hot enough I can’t drink it. If I don’t add a couple three ice cubes, it may take it to noon to cool down. That’s too long. That little thick-walled white coffee cup is perfect. I got it from Dallas, and it’s the only one I’ve seen. It has a little blue dot on the handle and a real thin line around the cup.

I have some of the Foxfire series books, and I believe there is a picture of a lady back in Appalachia drinking her coffee out of a saucer. At first I was puzzled, but then it came to me. If the first swigs of coffee are too hot, then pour a little in the saucer, and it will cool down quick so we can get that first sip a little quicker. Some would actually serve their coffee in a cup and saucer and overfill the cup so some would end up in the saucer. It was actually good manners to slurp or suck the coffee from the saucer making that sucking noise.

Back a bunch of years people would slurp their hot tea or coffee or hot beverage from a saucer. Historians aren’t sure where the practice started, but I’m thinking where ever they heated their beverage over a wood stove, and it boiled, they sure could have used a saucer. Some believe it started in Sweden, but there really is no proof of this. Swedes would hold cubes of sugar between their teeth and sip or suck the coffee past this sugar cube. It kind of sweetened the coffee, but it also cooled the coffee down. This tradition was called “dricka på bit” or “drink with a lump.” And there was even a name attached to drinking coffee from a saucer called “saucering.”

The modern society today doesn’t have to face this problem. When they get a coffee, it has all kinds of additives like milk or whipped cream and sweeteners and flavorings. The craze around Halloween was pumpkin spice. Some of these drinks are served cold with ice cubes. No need to cool down those first few sips.

But there are still some out there who like coffee served piping hot straight up black. Some like their coffee with maybe a touch of cream or milk or sweetener. But they want coffee, real coffee. Some like weak coffee while others want thick, black, can’t see through it coffee. I’m kind of leaning on the side of the thick, can’t see through coffee. Some want chicory or Cajun coffee. I like a cup now and then.

I prefer my home-roasted coffee beans ground just before I make my coffee. But I’ll drink most any coffee most every way with most anyone, if we can sit and visit. I’ve lost some darn good friends while we have been here in Scott City, and most every one of them has been coffee-drinking visiting friends. I sure hope heaven has a good supply of fresh-roasted coffee, piping hot, served in a cup and saucer.

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