I want to talk about coffee, because I love coffee. When I decided to start writing a blog, as I was brainstorming on a title, it came very clear that I wanted to include “coffee” in the title. Instead of full of love, or full of memories, it occurred to me I wanted to use “Full of Coffee”. My “helpers” all agreed. (Thank you to all that have been helping and encouraging me!).
If you don’t like coffee, it’s okay. I do hope you still read. Maybe there’s something else you like as much as I like coffee. Maybe something that helps you hold on to a feeling, to a memory. For me, it’s not about the fancy coffee shops or the fancy flavors. I associate coffee with warmth, family, and memories.
In psychology, the human being’s need to connect to others is called attachment. As we grow, we form bonds with our adult caregivers. This helps us develop a sense of security and help us learn to gain confidence in our own abilities to deal with different issues in life. (n.d.). Psychologist World | Psychology News, Tests, Theories and Guides. Attachment Theory – Psychologist World.Retrieved from http://www.psychologistworld.com/developmental/attachment-theory.
Since I’m not an expert in psychology either, although I do have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, maybe I’ll leave that topic for another post. I won’t talk about the health benefits of coffee, as there is plenty of information available on the Internet, and plenty of controversy already. I know it’s beneficial for my health, both physical and mental. It helps me stay focused and happy.
In Puerto Rico, the grand majority of the population drink coffee. It’s part of our culture, our traditions. Some people, like my mom, my grandmothers, and my aunts, gave us coffee when we were children. I don’t give coffee to my kids, but I know my youngest son likes it. He comes to me and ask for a little sip. Or comes around and says “your coffee smells so good”.
I don’t drink a specific brand, but I do prefer Hispanic brands. Actually, I drink any coffee, including from fast-food places and gas stations. But I rather prepare my own. I do like the small Hispanic cafeterias or food places, where they offer “café con leche”, a “cubanito” or a “cortadito”. If you don’t know, the “cubanito” and “cortadito” are stronger than your average cup of coffee.
I don’t buy the fancy ones often either. Maybe I splurge on fancy coffee every other month, or even once a year. I didn’t know how to order just coffee. I’ve finally settled for a “Tall Vanilla Latte” which translate to a small coffee with milk and vanilla syrup.
Nora Ephron wrote the perfect reference to coffee in the movie “You’ve Got Mail” (1998). At the beginning of the movie, we see Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) in a coffee shop:
“The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing, or who on earth they are can – for only $2.95 – get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino.”
My love for coffee relates to my family and my upbringing. Everybody in my close family drinks coffee. When we visit any relative, they don’t ask “do you want coffee?”. No, they say “here is your cup of coffee”. (I’d venture to guess that this happens in any Puerto Rican or any Hispanic family household).
I remember that both my grandmothers grew their own beans. They’d send us kids to pick up the fruit (called cherry), tend it to dry, peel the skin off the bean, toast it, and grind it. It was the best coffee I’ve tasted ever. It was made with love, and that’s how we keep it in our memories. I know, because every time we siblings or cousins have a conversation about coffee, this is a mutual memory. It’s a happy memory.
I also came to the conclusion that I cherish my coffee, because it reminds me of my Mom. It was one of the few precious things I had in common with her. Her love for coffee. My mom drank coffee about 8 times a day. Not a full cup, but about 4 ounces of black coffee. And I know my Grandmothers and my aunts did this too. I don’t drink that much coffee anymore. I have a cup in the morning, and if I have visitors or an afternoon meet with anyone, I’d get coffee.
When I went off to college, I tried to stop drinking coffee. It didn’t work. I had to have it. I met people during that period that became good friends, because we love coffee. How we met? We all went to the campus cafeteria to get our coffee. One of those friends recently told me that when he drinks his coffee, he thinks of us and those times. We create a bond with those we share common likes.
Now, I do have a few non-coffee people in my life. So I have to find common ground with them. It happens. Not everyone is going to like the same things as you. That’s how life works sometimes. Still, my life is all about coffee. No, I am no expert. But I’m a coffee lover. So for this post, I did some research.
I found the best information about coffee on the website for the National Coffee Association of America http://ncausa.org. I also looked up the Puerto Rico National Coffee Roasters website for information about coffee history and production where I grew up, where I come from https://puertoricocoffeeroasters.com.
You can imagine I didn’t even know what kind of bean or type of roast I use. According to the National Coffee Association (NCA), the most popular kind of beans in America are Arabica and Robusta. Coffee is grown and produced in more than 50 countries around the world (that’s a lot of coffee lovers!). I also learned that the ideal conditions for coffee trees to thrive are found in along the Equatorial zone around the world called “The Bean Belt”. (Coffee around the World, National Coffee Association of America, 2019).
What I did know is that Brazil is the biggest producer of coffee in the world, followed by Colombia. Colombia is the best-known coffee producer and it’s known for its quality and excellence. Colombians do take pride in their coffee, and it shows. Wherever you are, if you have access to Colombian coffee, trust that is one of the best in the world.
And of course, I have to highlight coffee history in my Puerto Rico:
“Coffee was brought to Puerto Rico from Martinique in 1736, and by the late 19th century, the island was the sixth leading exporter of coffee in the world. However, major hurricanes and competition from other coffee producing countries forced the island to seek other means for economic survival. Today, the coffee industry is being revived with carefully cultivated coffee from quality Arabica varieties that are produced to the highest standards. There are two major growing regions on the Caribbean island: Grand Lares in the south central region, and Yauco Selecto in the southwest. Both regions are noted for their beans’ balanced body and acidity, as well as a fruity aroma.”from Coffee Around the World, National Coffee Association of America.
I learned that the most common roast types are light, medium, medium dark, and dark. As the NCA states, just because the roast is darker doesn’t mean it has more caffeine. It only affects the flavor. I prefer the medium dark. I like the taste of coffee.
There’s also a preference in brewing styles. The most common is the “drip” method, in which hot water is poured over the ground coffee. We use that one with most coffee makers. In Puerto Rico, the “Greca” or “Moka” coffee pot is very popular. It’s a stove-top pot, with a compartment at the bottom for water. It has a metal strainer for the coffee ground that goes above the water. As water boils, it moves up through the strainer to the top compartment where the coffee is collected.
The cloth strainers are still used, as a tradition we pass on from our grandparents to the next generation. One way of using it is to put water to boil, add the coffee ground to the hot water, and then drain it through the cloth. Another way is to put the ground coffee inside the strainer, then pour the hot water over it.
Another method is the “french” press, which does not require electricity or paper filters. The press has a container, and a lid with a metal strainer, attached to a plunger. The ground coffee is placed in the container, the hot water is added, and let it steep for a few minutes. Then the plunger is pushed down, so it will filter the coffee ground. Coffee is ready to be served. This one I’ve never tried before.
The next method is the “espresso” coffee makers. It’s the most commonly used at the fancy coffee shops! They use the “espresso” machines to get better taste in less time. The espresso is a term that originated in Italy. The process uses hot water that is pressurized through the coffee ground, to produce a concentrated thick coffee liquid. I love the espresso.
So you see, as I did this research, I learned a little more about coffee. This will definitely be a topic that I’ll revisit and write some more about it. Coffee is a very popular drink around the world, so I know there are many coffee lovers that might relate to my story as to why they love coffee.
I go back to my roots, to my family, to my mom. I do know that coffee brings my family together. There is a feeling of warmth and security in knowing that we all enjoy that cup of coffee, thinking of our parents, grandparents, relatives, and friends. Every time I visit Puerto Rico, I go visit my auntie Hilda, who makes the best coffee in all of our family. Why?, because it reminds me of my mom’s coffee and of great times spent together, savoring and sharing our coffee.
I hope you enjoyed, and same as me, now feel like I need to have some coffee. Time for my tacita de café. Salud!
Para versión Español https://fullofcoffee.blog/2019/03/03/hablemos-sobre-mi-amor-por-el-cafe/