“I love coffee, I love tea. I love the boys, and the boys love me.”

I chanted that silly jump-rope jingle hundreds of times on the Oak Knoll Playground, certain that I’d never acquire a taste for either coffee or tea. Little did I know.

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My earliest coffee memory was watching Dad pour his morning doze into a saucer, slurping it as he leaned over the sink to avoid spilling it down his white office shirt.

I remember my mother sitting at the kitchen table (yellow formica, as I recall), chatting over steaming cups of coffee with a friend. I remember, too, being told that coffee would stunt my growth. I was big for my age, so I snuck a taste hoping it would retard my vertical development – YUCK!

I swore I’d never drink it. That resolve was strengthened by Mr. Ryshavy’s rancid coffee breath in sixth grade. I worshiped the man, but his coffee breath would send me reeling to my seat. Yet another reason to avoid coffee.

A Need for the Caffeine Perk

I changed my mind. I had to. As a sophomore at university, my procrastination had gotten the best of me. So, at 10 p.m. one night, a research paper and a final exam necessitated a quick dose of caffeine.

I hated Coke and refused to take No-Doz (drugs!), so what was left? Coffee. Ralph & Jerry’s Grocery was open ‘til midnight, so I headed out to buy some instant Jo. With a half cup of sugar, it wasn’t too bad, and it did the trick. I was up all night.

I decided it might behoove me to acquire a taste for the stuff. For the next few years, I searched out all the coffee-flavored sweets I could find to acclimate myself to coffee’s bitter taste.

Coffee ice cream was pretty good, and Coffee Nips were delicious. By the time I graduated, I actually chose to drink coffee on occasion, with a mere teaspoon of sugar.

Well, my taste buds have been further transformed by egg coffee, trips to Starbucks, treks through Europe, and finally, my own French press pot. Love the stuff – the stronger the better.

Coffee Offers Health Benefits

Over the years, coffee has gotten a bad rap, but more recently, it’s actually been proven to have some health benefits.

According to Donald Hensrud, M.D. of the Mayo Clinic, coffee offers protection “against Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver disease, including liver cancer. Coffee also appears to improve cognitive function and decrease the risk of depression.”

Not only that, but consuming four to five cups of coffee a day has been shown to decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to research by Dr. Chuanhai Cao at the University of South Florida.

Of course, drinking too much coffee can have health risks as well. As with most foods, moderation is the key.

Did You Know…?

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  • Brazil produces 40% of the world’s coffee, twice as much as second and third place Colombia and Vietnam.
  • Coffee was discovered in Turkey around 800 A.D. and is currently the most widely consumed beverage in the world.
  • In Turkey, the bride-to-be is expected to brew perfect Turkish coffee for her intended groom and his parents before they will approve the match, and then the husband promises to always keep the wife supplied with coffee beans. If he doesn’t, it’s grounds for divorce (pun intended).
  • Beethoven was a coffee fanatic and counted out exactly 60 beans to brew each cup of coffee.
  • The Americans, the French, and the Germans consume 65% of the world’s supply of coffee.
  • Honoré de Balsac, a famous 19th century French writer, drank up to 40 cups of coffee a day.
  • Coffee represents 75% of all the caffeine consumed in the United States (Coke comes second).
  • Coffee beans are actually berries, not beans.
  • The human body can absorb up to about 300 milligrams of caffeine at a given time. Additional amounts are sluffed off, providing no further stimulation. The body dissipates 20% of the caffeine in the system each hour.
  • Dark roasted coffees actually have less caffeine than medium roasts, because the longer beans are roasted, the more caffeine burns off in the process.

So, enjoy! And remember the Turkish proverb, “Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.”

How do you like your coffee? When did you start drinking it – do you remember how that happened? What are some memorable moments where coffee was involved? Please share your pleasant, coffee-scented stories below.

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