If This is Coffee…

There was a time, I suppose it was the late 50s and early 60s…the age when my mother grew into adulthood, when America’s “Greatest Generation” was in their prime, when Jello was all the rage…the age that cultural critic and author Thomas Hine dubbed Populuxe (even more fascinating).  Anyway, there was this age, this time, when my parents threw big parties, the kind that would have made Robert Putnam proud, and the coffee was brewed in large, party sized percolators.

To a kid who really didn’t have any interest in coffee, the bubbling, brown liquid that blurped up through the translucent handle, the gurgling, the very physical exertion of the coffee as it heaved itself up and down, up and down over itself…to me, this was how real coffee was made.

It percolated.

If coffee could chew its own cud, that was percolation.  If coffee could take itself around the block a few times, just to chat, that was percolation.  If coffee could table and untable itself, as some sort of congressional rehash, that was percolation.

So when I grew up and wanted a real coffee maker, I looked for a percolator. And I bought one…something like this:

farberware-stainless-steel-percolator-142-superfast-12-cup-coffee-maker-like-new-bd87e71a2215e65959ce36982f90c8d1And it sucked.

So much for the good old days.

2 thoughts on “If This is Coffee…

  1. Yes, that prime of the ‘Greatest Generation” also brought us Hungry Man TV dinners, whereby you needed to carefully adjust plastic, and foil to get the different compartments of your meal to cook to something that was perfectly inedible. It did suck.

    BUT, as I reflect on the dozens of countries and locales I’ve lived (from small fishing villages in remote China to metropolises like Shanghai and London, I always remember the the positive things. Remote led to amazing mountain biking rides through terraced rice fields and temples scattered throughout the peninsula. Cosmopolitan led to amazing museums and grand architecture. And both offered history was hard for a suburbanite American to fully comprehend and appreciate.

    It was all good (except maybe for that downing of a US spy plane and Chinese jet fighter in southern China, of the SARs virus, of living in the block where a package bomb exploded, etc) While distance gives one perspective, it is important to remember that the focus should not entirely be on the positive memories. After all, mumps, measles and polio were also a reality for the “Greatest Generation”.


    • Thanks, Tom. Don’t get me wrong. There was a lot to like in those days: Tail-fins, Space Race, Tupperware. I just didn’t like the coffee 😉 ‘Much happier for the advent of the American Espresso movement than the burbling percolators of my childhood (or the drippy Mr. Coffees that replaced them.


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