“Through a Glass Darkly” column for Aug. 29, 2012

My mother’s coffee pot has an important spot on a shelf in our kitchen.

That pot, which she used daily, is one of those tangible items that best evokes memories of her.

It’s a little drip pot that wouldn’t hold more than one regular cup. That was a lot considering the potency of her black brew.

She would pour only about a tablespoon of boiling water from a dipper. After it settled into the heap of coffee grounds, she added another tablespoon.

For my mother, making coffee was a slow, almost religious rite.

What eventually came out of the spout was so strong that even her Louisiana brothers and sisters would add water to it.

Mother always drank her coffee without cream. If she felt she needed an extra lift she would add a half of a teaspoon of sugar to the black brew.

I guess it’s not surprising that she sometimes could be high strung.

Luckily she usually drank her brew from a demitasse cup.

She made up for that fact by having numerous little cups in a day.

Once, when I was a small boy, she decided that it would be good for her health to give up coffee. Possibly a doctor advised her to do it after hearing of the strength of her daily drinks.

She made it to the middle of the afternoon.

After lying down for a while with a horrible headache, she got up and put water on the stove to boil. From the Luzianne Coffee can that sat beside the stove, she dumped a hefty amount of grounds into the top of her little pot.

Within an hour she felt better. As far as I know, she never tried giving up coffee again.

Before I started school, I started drinking coffee milk.

When I would go to work with my father, we would walk to a restaurant a few hundred yards away where he and my Uncle Bert would have coffee.

Though it’s been almost 60 years, I remember a waitress there named Louella. She would fix me a cup that was filled half with coffee and half with vanilla ice cream.

Two of my three children became coffee drinkers. My younger son, Casey, makes his almost as strong as my mother once did.

He teaches in Japan, and one of his major complaints is the quality of the coffee.

After months there, he was excited to find to a Café du Monde in Kyoto.

His elation began to sink when he saw the menu didn’t have beignets, but his emotions hit the bottom of the pot when he tasted the coffee.

Even in the United States, finding a good cup of coffee outside of Louisiana is often difficult.

Not surprisingly, my mother’s biggest problem with it was that it was too weak.

“Dishwater!” she called it.

Advocate Florida Parishes bureau chief Bob Anderson welcomes comments by email to banderson@
theadvocate.com.