Coffee and me

I’m a strange one for coffee.

I don’t like it, basically. And when I mention this, people say that I’m not really an Italian if I don’t drink coffee, and I brush their words away. Because it’s seriously not an issue for me. Or that’s what I used to think.

Now, I’m starting to think that maybe it’s more of an issue than I previously thought.

Because why don’t I drink coffee?

I like coffee ice cream. I like hazelnut coffee. I like that wonderful thing that’s been in fashion for a few years in Italy: the crema caffé, a super thick coffee slushie with heavy cream in it and sweet. So sweet. I like starbucks coffee. But the espresso? The cappuccino? Not so much.

Then again, I don’t drink milk anymore either.

The other day I was thinking why? Why don’t I like coffee?

When I make it in the morning for Boyfriend I love the easy, repetitive actions that I have to do.
Open the coffee machine. Hit the base once, hard, on the side of the sink to dislodge the funnel with the filter and yesterday’s compact disk of used coffee. Let the water run, cleaning the funnel and its sides (we don’t want to ruin the plastic seal by leaving grains of coffee there) but never, ever ever use soap. For any reason. Pick up the used disk of coffee from the sink and, under the still running water, tighten your palm and feel it disintegrate and rush down the drain. Fill the base with water, only up to the little valve on the side. Add coffee. Which one, today? Maybe the Cuban, or the Columbian, or the Brazilian one? Or maybe the Italian coffee – Illy, of course. To me they all smell the same, but Boyfriend assures me that they taste different. Fill the funnel and make a little mountain with the little spoon that we use only for coffee, being careful not to spill any of that rich dark powder. But some always falls, no matter how many times you’ve done it before. Close the coffee machine and place it on the fire. High, at first, and then when the coffee starts bubbling to the top low, until no more coffee is sprouting from the column of escape.

I love doing this. And that smell! But why don’t I like drinking it?

For one, it’s bitter. And I really, really don’t like bitter things. Furthermore, it’s scary.

Yep. It’s scary. I’ve seen what it does to people. I’ve seen humans who are zombies before coffee. I’ve seen friends turn into addicts after their first exam at university. I have two parents who are, to different degrees, unapproachable until they’ve drank their morning coffee – my mother in particular would probably be able to kill someone between the moment she wakes up and when the caffeine starts kicking in.

Sometimes I’ve used it to stay awake, but only during emergencies: driving from Torino to Ravenna; at work when I felt as if I was really going to sleep during a class (but then I always find some ice cream to melt in it) or when I really, really need to be extra productive. But I always treat it like a medicine. I treat it with the same respect as if it were in the shape of a pill and bought from the pharmacy.

I strongly believe that my dislike of coffee comes from some kind of deep ingrained fear. Fear of being addicted. Fear of losing control. Fear of not being myself.

So no, I don’t drink coffee, and I honestly don’t think I ever will.

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