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rant: learning to love coffee

rant: learning to love coffee


Eleanor Robertson has a long and tumultuous history with caffeine.

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Age 5: I sip my dad’s coffee because it smells a bit like chocolate. The intensely bitter flavour almost makes me vomit and I spend the next 10 minutes drinking water and clawing at my tongue, demanding an explanation from my dad about why he or anyone else would drink this disgusting filth.

Age 14: I figure out that coffee keeps you awake, and start drinking it occasionally at night to help me get through long hours of obsessively hate-following people on MySpace. I still think it tastes disgusting, and fill my cups with milk and sugar to disguise the flavour.

Age 15: I figure out that drinking coffee with milk and sugar is extremely uncool, and if I keep doing it nobody will take me seriously. Why don’t I just have a bloody milkshake, they’ll say. Unfortunately I still can’t stand the taste, which means I still drink coffee, but only in private where nobody else can see my shame.

Age 18: Going to university requires that I drink coffee in front of other people, and I discover that I quite like it black, as long as it’s not too strong. One day I attempt to drink a ristretto, and am immediately flung back to the memory of drinking my dad’s coffee at age five. My mouth puckers. My eyes run. I can feel the slightly grainy, sludgy liquid coating my teeth and tongue. I spend the rest of the day brushing my teeth and chewing gum to try and get rid of the rank aftertaste in my mouth. I still have no idea why anyone would drink one of those.

Age 20: I discover the joy of combining coffee with cigarettes. I smoke a cigarette whenever I have a cup; sometimes two or three. The rankness of the nicotine and the bitterness of the drink go incredibly well together, and every time I have a coffee and a few durries I plan to spend the rest of the day by myself because I’m sure the combination makes my breath absolutely hideous.

Age 21: I move into a house where everyone drinks instant coffee. It’s so gross that I go back to drinking it with milk and sugar, out of chipped mugs. I’m usually chain-smoking while I drink the coffee, and very sad. Occasionally I shoplift real ground beans and make it in a plunger, but usually there’s not enough room in my bag after I’ve shoplifted enough food to feed myself and my boyfriend.

Age 22: I start drinking plunger coffee every morning, sometimes two or three cups. For some reason I’ve never considered drinking more than one cup at once, but as soon as I cotton on to the magic of shaking and sweating your way through an important project, I’m hooked. Watch out boring uni subjects, this essay on the cultural mediation of children’s sexuality by Victorian moralism is coming atcha, FAST.

Age 24: After at least two years of drinking black coffee, I order a latte at a café by mistake and it’s like an angel has kissed me. The sweet creaminess of the milk, the bitterness of the beans. It’s like getting a back rub, or a hug. God, I was such an idiot for only drinking black coffee. What was I thinking?

Age 25: I have a coffee almost every morning, sometimes with milk and sometimes without. I buy a clever vacuum-press coffee maker and it’s incredible; I find out that the brand sponsors a world championship of using the press, and there are several fancy ways to modify it that allegedly change the flavour of the resulting brew. I mean to give this a go sometime, but I probably won’t. Too busy drinking coffee.

This caffeinated mini memoir was first published in issue 68 of frankie, October 2015.

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