My first memories of coffee as I grew up in the midwest, was of my mom dunking cinnamon rolls in a cup of white milk turned brown from coffee. The coffee came in very large cans and when the cans were empty they were turned into a myriad of storage containers from nails to nightcrawlers. Our percolator would sit on the counter bubbling away and was a permanent fixture in the kitchen. Coffee was the centerpiece of our family’s social life, whether it was the coffee klatch of farmers gathered around the local café debating grain prices and weather, to evening card games, when the neighbors would come over and drink coffee all night catching up on the local gossip.
This experience carried with me into college. Coffee was the beverage of choice when cramming for finals, or taking the chill off those brisk winter days in Missouri. But it was when I moved to Washington DC, living in a small ethnic neighborhood, that my true appreciation for coffee and coffee growing regions blossomed. I would shop at a small roaster run by a quiet Yemeni gentleman who patiently taught me about the different beans and the roasting process. I experimented with different brewing techniques and later when travels took me to Central America, Europe and Asia I sought out the local favorite coffee bringing samples home with me to savor.