When I first moved to Kokomo in 1983, I was surprised at how many people did not drink coffee. Many people, for example, drank Coke for breakfast – something I had never seen before. In contrast, I was raised in an environment where coffee drinking was assumed. At work, people did not take “breaks.” They took “coffee breaks.”
Over the years, health aficionados ranted and raved about the evils of coffee drinking. It caused cancer, they claimed, and a host of other woes. That never made sense. What beverage is more natural than coffee?
Eventually designer coffees and creamers struck like a tsunami. Coffee was now the rage – but only if it cost $3 or $4 a cup and could be made more fattening. Iced coffees, espresso, lattes, and a host of coffee beverages mushroomed in popularity. The word “barista” came into the American vocabulary.
Many of these new drinks are actually imported from Italy. To me, “Italian” usually means “good;” having grown up in an Italian neighborhood, I have long believed that Italian cuisine stands head and shoulders above the rest. But when it comes to coffee ...
Where I was raised, my friends (all of Italian descent) would say, “There are only two kinds of people: Italians and those who wish they were.” Such sayings are arrogant at best; there are many opinions on this matter. I fall into a unique category: Those who are not Italian but are fortunate enough to marry one.
My perspective on coffee is not so Italian. Italians have the best main entrees in the world – a given. They have the best bread – a no-brainer. And condiments – who can match hot giardiniera? But coffee and desserts – eh (as I raise my hand and slide it to the side).
I guzzle plain coffee and creamer. True, I enjoy coffee raised on mountains in Kenya or Kona coffee from Hawaii – but not enough to pay for it. I consume Folgers and sometimes splurge with Eight O’Clock.