Coffee: Priorities, Protocols, Prerequisites

Sep 12, 2016 | 2 comments

Morning Coffee with Pickles and Peppers

Morning Coffee with Pickles and Peppers

Since 1971 when Starbucks began roasting coffee beans and brewing what has been called “second wave” coffee in Seattle, the Northwest has become known world-wide for its coffee, plain and fancy.  In my mind, “second wave” means that ordering has become complicated.  First, there’s the size – no longer will ‘a cup’ do.  Eight, twelve, sixteen twenty, or twenty-four ounce?   Then, what kind?  Latte, Mocha, with or without whipped cream?  Decaf, hot, iced, espresso?  And on it goes.

I, too, associate coffee with the Northwest.  Specifically, with Oysterville, for this is where I learned how to drink coffee.  Little did we know it was “first wave.”  I think it must have been about 1954 – just after my freshman year in college that I was here for a week before my job at the Cliff House gift shop in San Francisco was to begin.  I remember that I had already ‘come out’ as smoker – (Pall Malls, as I remember) and, of all my family, only my Aunt Mona smoked.  She was here, looking after my grandfather and she and I became smoking companions, so to speak.

Morning Coffee with Pickles and Peppers

Morning Coffee with Pickles and Peppers

For Mona coffee and cigarettes went together — right along with the most important activity of all: visiting.  Cigarettes only came one way in her mind: unfiltered.  There were no compromises on coffee either.  “Black,” she told me.  “Don’t fool around with cream or sugar; they just complicate matters. If you learn to drink it black, you will find it much easier.”

So I did and I have.  Now that my body is beginning to betray me with things like rapid heartbeat and insomnia and other caffeine related issues, I have switched to decaffeinated coffee.  Except, of course, for that first cup of the day.  In that case, decaf just won’t do it.  And, for the record, I gave up the cigarette habit thirty-five years ago.  Learning to drink coffee without cigarettes was one of the most difficult parts of becoming a non-smoker.

Helen and Harry Espy, 1947 Painting by Hilda Cole Espy

Helen and Harry Espy, 1947 Painting by Hilda Cole Espy

I thought about all of these coffee matters this morning as we prepared coffee and scones (from Bailey’s Café!!) for our overnight guests, the Pickles and Peppers Clarinet Quartet.  Their House Concert yesterday had been spectacular and I was hopeful that their final memory of Oysterville would be up to the mark.  So it was that we made available both coffee and decaf (and tea for the non-coffee drinker) plus cream (well, actually Silk) and sugar.  I didn’t have any fake sugar, though, but hasn’t someone decided that it’s not good for you?

And, I thought about my grandfather who always had his old coffee pot on the woodstove in the nursery.  The contents have been described by many old-timers and family members as a “watery brew” – apparently a pre-cursor to “First Wave” coffee.  But it was always available and always offered to a visitor.  Coffee and conversation.  After all, isn’t that the point?

2 Comments

  1. Cindi

    It is not what is offered…it is the hospitality with which it is offered. Warmth, friendship and thoughts shared around a cup of something pleasant… ! Thank you Sydney!

    Cindi (from Pickles and Peppers Quartet).

    Reply
  2. Ben Farrell

    The coffee was excellent, and I broke my normal dietary restriction because the warm, fragrant scones were too delicious to resist-mine was ginger flavored and especially scrumptious when combined with copious amounts of the apple butter and jam. But I could have been eating cardboard smeared with tar and I would have still loved it because the company was so outstanding. Sydney and Nyal are the most gracious hosts, and eponymous author, Mr. E., added wit and charm to the delightful conversation buzzing around the table. I know that I, as well as the rest of the quartet, were still buzzing from the wonderfully warm reception we received from your guests for our concert. We are so glad that you invited us. It was immediately evident that your audience truly appreciated our musical offering. We had a lot of fun putting the program together, and driving up to the peninsula on a glorious fall day is something we will remember for a long while. On the other hand, I hope we will soon forget and not often discuss the fit of irrationality that seized me when, no more than one half hour after leaving your charming table, I decided to take the ladies for a drive along the sandy beach just outside of Ocean Park. I saw all the other tire tracks and immediately thought, “What could possibly go wrong!” You can guess the rest. My front tires were buried to the mid-point within ten feet, and we may have remained there forever had not a kindhearted stranger come by with a Land Rover and tow rope.

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