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The Cook in Me: The Coffee Conspiracy©

Updated on December 12, 2013

I usually enjoy my morning coffee group. We discuss the news of the day, the political climate, the craziest of dreams, our horoscopes, and what the day will bring. On most of these mornings, I wish I had an IV for caffeine so that I could keep my eyes open to follow and enjoy the conversation. I have always wondered why these morning groups are called "coffee" groups? Why not a "wake up" group? Or a "beverage" group? Or a "let's do the crossword puzzle together" group? Or a “daily horoscope” group? The simple answer is because the coffee industry has a monopoly on the wake up beverage of choice. So that’s what we call it.

I didn't become a coffee drinker until I was 54 years old, and even then, it was only with loads of cream, sugar, and cocoa mix. I never drank a cup of coffee before that time. Well, almost never. As a kid, I used to dunk my mom's molasses cookies in coffee. But that doesn't count because it was just a dunking vehicle. I didn’t actually drink the coffee; I just dunked the cookies and threw the coffee, complete with cookie crumbs, down the drain.

Despite all the health advantages, not drinking coffee can be a bummer. I adore the aroma of freshly brewing coffee beans. And nothing beats a Starbucks’ Mocha Java Chip Frappe or coffee ice cream with hot fudge sauce. But as my hips have continued to spread beyond the child-bearing years, and I do still somewhat care about my shape, I don’t think I could bring myself to stroll into work every morning with a coffee ice cream sundae, no matter how tempting it is.

And speaking of mornings, I’ve never been much of a morning person. After listening to some of the conversations around the coffee pot at our 8 a.m. coffee group, I gather I’m not alone. That brings me to one of those philosophical questions I’ve pondered for years. Why is it so important to be a morning person? What’s wrong with being an evening person? Or an afternoon person? Or even a middle of the night person? Although, I’ve made many attempts to work on that flaw in my make-up, (i.e., becoming a morning person), I have never understood why it is so important to be a morning person. When I was growing up, my father made my sisters and I wake up by 8:00 a.m. every morning, even in the summer time, and he never understood why some of us preferred to sleep in. "Half the day is gone!" he'd bellow as I dragged myself to the bathroom at 8:02. “Daylight’s a wasting!” Huh? Who cares? Back then, the days seemed to stretch out forever, summer vacation really did last 3 full months, and there was no hurry to do anything. None of my friends ever showed their faces until at least 10 a.m., and what was there to do before all the neighborhood kids got up anyhow?

Some people just don’t understand those of us who need to sleep in – those of us whose inner clocks prefer the late night hours for working. For years we’ve felt guilty because we can’t jump out of bed at 6 a.m., bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to conquer the world. That’s pretty hard to do when we’ve stayed up half the night working as hard as others do during the day. Those late, silent hours compel us to function at our maximum performance, at the time when our brains are the sharpest. Sure it’s the time when others sleep, but what difference does it really make? If your brain never awakens much before 10 a.m. anyhow, what is the point of getting up at 5:30 a.m.? Why, to drink coffee of course!

For the most part, we aren’t pioneers, farmers, or an agrarian society any more. There are no cows to milk, or eggs to gather, or pigs to slop. Think about it. . . Back in the pioneer days there were no alarm clocks, clock radios, televisions or electric lights, and the daily chores on the farm had to be started as soon as the sun rose. It made sense to get up when the rooster crowed in order to chop the wood for the stove, or head down to the creek for the day’s supply of water, or shovel the coal for the furnace to warm the house after a chilly night. Today, in our twenty-four hour world, what’s the point?

When I am able to get up at 9 a.m. or after, I don’t need caffeine to get me going. My body’s internal clock gets me moving. I suspect a greater portion of the population abides by this same physiological characteristic. Did you ever think that maybe, just maybe, all these years there has been a conspiracy by the coffee growers and coffee boutiques of the world to force societies to remain on the pioneer/farm schedule? Hence, the hype for morning “wake-up” coffee, coffee blends, coffee drinks, coffee shops, coffee coffee, and the resulting “craving” for huge quantities of caffeine to start the cogs moving in brains across the world each daybreak. I should have rationalized this point much earlier in my life and bought stock in Maxwell House, or Starbuck’s. I’d be retired and living in paradise. . . . Oh wait. . . I am retired, and living in Paradise!

It just makes sense. Have you ever tried writing a trial brief during the day when the phones are ringing off the hook, business associates are pestering you for direction, secretaries can’t remember whether they’re supposed to interrupt you or not, and every client’s phone call is an emergency? All right, maybe the world always looks better early in the morning before its newness is tarnished by daily activities. But it also looks surreal in the stillness of the night. You just can’t top the quiet of the late night and early morning hours to do serious thinking, philosophizing and writing. No, there’s nothing like the late night and early morning hours for the perfect quiet needed to contemplate life and create works of art. So, Night Owls Unite! Feel guilty no more if you’re not a morning person! You’re not alone! Peacefully enjoy those early mornings hours of slumber while the rest of the world is loading in the caffeine. Don’t be surprised to find my lights on in the middle of the night. And don’t look for me at the coffee pot before 9 a.m.!

My favorite coffee drinks today are iced. I'm including two recipes for you today that are my go-tos when I get that coffee craving. After moving south last year, I found that hot coffee has no appeal to me anymore. However, give me a nice cup of iced coffee in the morning, and I'm a happy camper for the rest of the day. If you're feeling decadent, enjoy these copycat recipes and share them with your coffee drinking friends!

©2013 by Kathy Striggow

This article may not be reproduced or reprinted in whole or in part without the express written permission of the author.

Mocha Frappuccino
Mocha Frappuccino

MOCHA FRAPPUCCINO

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Serving Size / Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 shots Espresso
  • 1 cups Milk
  • 2 cups ice (crushed or chopped)
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Whipped cream

Directions

  1. Add warm espresso and sugar to blender. Blend until combined.
  2. Add milk, ice and chocolate syrup. Blend on high until ice is finely grated.
  3. If you're feeling decadent, serve topped with whipped cream and chocolate syrup.

Mocha Chip Frappe
Mocha Chip Frappe

MOCHA CHIP FRAPPE

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Serving Size / Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

4 tablespoons Chocolate Syrup
4 tablespoons Mini Chocolate Chips
4 cups Dark Coffee, Double Strength and Freshly Brewed
Crushed or Chopped Ice
Cocoa Powder (optional, for garnish) Whipped cream (optional, for garnish)
Chocolate Syrup (optional, for garnish)

Directions

1. Fill blender half full with the ice.

2. Add all ingredients (except whipped cream) and blend until thick and still icy.

3. Pour into 4 tall glasses.

4. If desired, top with cocoa powder OR top with whipped cream and drizzle chocolate syrup over the whipped cream.

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