Mastering coffee drinking takes practice

By Helena Rodriguez: Local columnist

I’m a novice when it comes to the art of coffee drinking. As a somewhat new sipper of this perked beverage, I’m envious of the grace and skill my parents exhibit in drinking coffee.

My first attempts to become a coffee drinker in my early 30s resulted in a scalded tongue. I would look up to professionals, like Mom and Dad, who always start sipping as soon as they pour their steaming coffee from the pot.

I still haven’t mastered that skill. But I do have the timing down. I have to let my coffee cool down for about 15 minutes before it is safe for me to drink.

I’m still not a professional, but getting there. Feel free to invite me for a cup of coffee, if you don’t mind sitting through “cooling off time.”

I don’t know if I’ll ever join the ranks of Mom and Dad, but at least I can call myself a member of the coffee club. It was four years ago, when I was living in Abilene, Texas, and visited my parents that Mom discovered I had become a sipper. Mom was shocked when I picked up the coffee pot with a mug in hand.

“When did you start drinking coffee?” she asked me with contempt. I proudly announced that I had become a bonafide coffee drinker and started thinking of all of the great memories and talks I could have with Mom and Dad over morning coffee.

But it doesn’t just have to be morning coffee. Mom drinks coffee all day, with cream of course.

According to one experienced coffee drinker I know, nothing beats a pot of coffee freshly brewed over an open campfire the cowboy way. Heck, you don’t even need a filter.

Now I may not exactly be a bonafide coffee drinker yet. I mean, I do feel cranky and not fully awake when I haven’t had my coffee. As a matter of fact, my morning drive includes a stroll through the drive-up window at the local coffee house.

As a novice drinker, however, I’m still likely to sue McDonald’s for a million dollars if I spill steaming coffee on my lap. Now that I think of it, the woman who sued McDonald’s and won a million dollars must have also been a novice coffee drinker because experienced drinkers know that when you pour a beverage from a steaming pot, it is likely to be hot. As for McDonald’s, although they were in the right, they went ahead and paid this woman a million smackaroos because they empathized with this inexperienced coffee drinker who, like me, has yet to refine herself in the fine art of drinking coffee.

It’s no wonder though, that I’m also lacking in grace when it comes to the fine art of sipping coffee after years of chugging down Dr Peppers for breakfast.

As a regular coffee drinker now, I have a shocking confession to make. I do not own a coffee maker. I had one that my daughter Laura gave me for Mother’s Day when I first became a coffee-o-holic. I ended up giving this coffee maker away to a much more devoted and experienced coffee drinker, my mom.

One morning my mom looked sad and I was like, “Why are you so sad mom?” and Mom’s like “Because my coffee maker went out and I want some coffee.” So I was like “You can have my coffee maker,” and that just totally made Mom’s day. It was a small act of kindness from one coffee drinker to another.

Maybe I’ll drink myself into becoming a professional coffee drinker someday. I’ve had aspirations since I was a little girl and Grandma Chaya would pour my sister Becky and I some “real” coffee in our play dishes on our little table. That made us feel grown up.

I really feel grown up now that I’m a regular coffee drinker — if only I could learn to stop scalding my tongue.

Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at: