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My love affair with coffee started early – I think when I was 5 or 6 years old. It all started one morning when I wondered why my father’s ‘milk’ was black while mine was white. It smelled different,too. An oddly happy smell. Curiosity hooked, I asked for a taste which my father readily obliged.
It is hard to put in writing the taste sensation of my first gustatory encounter with coffee. So to put it simply, it was love at first sip; so I asked for another sip and another and more.
It did not take long for someone to call me Miss Kape and my reputation as a coffee drinker to spread among relatives. I drank it hot. I drank it cold. While my sisters and cousins dunked their pandesal in milk, I cheerfully dunked mine in coffee. My lugaw was even coffee or mocha flavored, too.
For me, it did not matter whether it was instant or brewed, black or creamed,imported or local as long as it has the aroma and taste that was uniquely of coffee.
I was a happy coffee drinker, much to my mother’s dismay. Concerned about my health, she tried to disuade me from drinking too much coffee. I still remember the most crazy scheme she (together with my older sister and aunt) had concocted. It was a tale about the effect of coffee on my skin. She said coffee was the reason why I was nug-nug (dark-skinned). And for a while, I believed her – by simple childish deduction.
You see, there were only two coffee drinkers in the family, my father and I – both dark-skinned. On the other hand, my mother, aunt and two sisters, non-coffee drinkers, were all fair-skinned. Hence, I deduced, coffee can cause darkening of skin. Sounds ridiculous now but my then six year old intellect was confident of the conclusion. However, this particular glib did not work as my mother had intended. I was never a vain child, thus, being a nug-nug did not bother me. I continued on my coffee-fest.
We always have a supply of coffee at home since my father was (and still is) a regular coffee drinker. But when I went to Manila to attend college, my supply of coffee became scarce. My older sister seldom include coffee in our grocery list. Like my mother, she is a staunch supporter of the health-benefits of milk.
Fortunately, I found many allies in the form of classmates. I studied architecture in college and just like what they say, coffee is a lifeline of many architecture students. With all the latenights and overnighters, coffee, chocolates and cola were regular staple among my classmates.
I never drank coffee to stay awake (I was always the first one to sleep – I was never fond of overnights even then), I drank simply because of the gustatory pleasure it brings. Whenever I needed some perk up, I drank milk instead; a habit that greatly boggled Rach, my frequent groupmate in school projects.
Two years ago, I was advised by my doctor to refrain from drinking coffee for medical reasons. Since then, no more coffee-laced lugaw and barako for me. No more 2 packs of cream and 2 tablespoons of sugar for every sachet of instant coffee. No more steaming black coffee from posh cafes.
Believe me, drawing a lungfull of aroma from someone else’s coffee is both a torture and a manna. Heavenly but wistfully not enough.
I don’t think I could completely wean myself from coffee. I confess that once in a while, once or twice a month, I sneak in a spoon of decaffeinated coffee in my cup of milk.
Of course I feel guilty everytime I have that moment of weakness. But I swallow my guilt just as I savor my first sip of my now rare cup of coffee.