Before March of 2010 I’d never drunk instant coffee, never even had a taste. Sure, I’d had the cheap stuff. Folgers was a mainstay in my suburban childhood home. The garage was lined with the empty cans. My father used them to store nuts, bolts, nails and screws. As I got older, about high school age, I developed a taste for slightly better coffee, although I should say that it was my younger brother at age 10 who first asked for a French press for his birthday. It was rare for us then to drink coffee before school, but on the weekends we’d open a fresh bag of beans, grind them down for the press and enjoy a pitch black cup with our eggs and bacon.
By the time I entered college I was drinking two cups a day, sometimes more. Coffee was a necessary evil. Luckily, living in Portland, it was easy to get my hands on the really good stuff. I was a regular at Stumptown’s S.E. Division location, and from time to time I’d make it into the S.W. 3rd shop. My love affair with it continued a few years later when I moved downtown and got a job at Oregon Business Magazine. The office on S.W. Broadway wasn’t far from the Ace Hotel location, where I spent many a lunch hour sipping freshly pressed Hair Bender and preparing for interviews.
My palate used to quality java, I panicked when I arrived in Ukraine almost two years ago to begin my Peace Corps service and found my only coffee options to be Nescafe and Jacobs Original or 3 in 1. I knew that any coffee sold in small, one-serving packets at the check-out counter would never compare to the organic, dark-roasted grinds I had back home.
But you’d be surprised how well your palate adapts when your choices are shit and shit. Now, every morning with my two eggs over easy on toast, I drink a tall mug of it – and without cringing.
That said, there have been care packages from my parents over the past couple years that came with some of Portland’s finest coffee. And when they do, I make it last, saving it for those slow, heavy-eyed mornings when the snow drifts come up to my knees and the thermometer reads just 10 degrees.