This Is Us

On Coffee and Men

You can learn a lot about someone by the way they bring you a drink

“You deserve a lover who takes away the lies and brings you hope, coffee, and poetry.” — Frida Kahlo

I love coffee as much as (or maybe more than) I love men. I was a late bloomer. Didn’t start drinking it until my mid-twenties.

In high school, I was a tea fanatic. I drank English breakfast with my Russian boyfriend when I was 16. He bought real tea, the loose leaves, and drained it into a cup. I loved the sound of the kettle whistling and watching him glide around my kitchen with his long legs and broad shoulders. Strong and agile, yet romantic and just so… Russian. He knew how I liked my tea.

Then, in my twenties, I found coffee. And I never went back to tea (or my Russian boyfriend, who broke my heart, but that’s another story).

Coffee, the elixir of life, the most popular natural antidepressant there is. The beverage of choice for hopeless romantics.

I can’t function, nor wish to function, without it. Some people read tea leaves. I read coffee grounds. Or rather, coffee behavior.

How does a man bring you coffee? Does he bring it to you in bed? Does he ask you how you like it? Does he make it how he likes it or how you like it? You can ask yourself these questions the next time you spend the night with a man, wake up in his bed, and find out who he really is.

I dated an older man for a year who only drank tea. He’d wake up at the crack of dawn and start obsessively making phone calls. (I never figured out who he was calling, but they seemed like very important calls.) I don’t know how he had all that energy after only drinking tea. He’d offer me tea and I’d say, “No thanks.” Then I’d walk to Main Street in Santa Monica and stop into Groundworks to get my own coffee, thank you very much. I’d call my friend Mindy and we’d walk to the ocean and drink our coffee sitting in our dresses in the sand.

Then, for two years, I dated a man who always brought me coffee in bed. He made really good coffee, too. He always asked how I liked it. Always listened. We both drank it nonstop all day.

Once, I accidentally spilled some on his bed and he erupted in a fit of rage: “WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?”

I wasn’t really thinking anything except, “Yay coffee!” And then, “Oops!” He was enraged. I was scared.

He always made sure I knew what a “kind” gesture it was to bring me coffee. “Not a lot of guys are going to make you coffee like this…” he’d say.

You mean with an addendum on the side? I sure hope not.

I have a guy friend I see once a year. He never has cream, because he drinks his coffee black. Every year I ask, “Do you have cream this time?” And every year he says, “Nope.” What kind of friend-with-benefits doesn’t have cream?! One who’d rather drink tequila. He’s charming and kind, though, so once a year I’ll drink black coffee with tequila. You gotta live a little.

The last man I dated also brought me coffee in bed. I think we both had equal respect for the substance. We joked that, “Whoever wakes up first makes the coffee!”

He once visited me at my aunt’s apartment in New York City. She only had whole beans. He tried grinding them and they ended up flying out of the grinder and landing on the floor. Unlike the guy who freaked out when I spilled, he and I both reveled in the chaos, and there was something oddly endearing about watching this tall, lanky man frantically clean coffee beans from the floor. My fondest memories of him are laughing while drinking coffee in bed. And even though he turned out to be the biggest player I’ve ever dated, I convinced myself he didn’t bring every woman coffee in bed. (I guess I’ll never know.)

Coffee in bed feels like a promise, but its aroma only lingers for so long.

He liked to put turmeric powder in his coffee. One morning I said, “I don’t want turmeric in mine this time.” He said “okay” and then still put turmeric in it. A small oversight, but still a sure-tell sign that my needs did not matter to him. He did things his way regardless of my wants or feelings. Coffee was always going to be on his terms, in or out of bed, with or without me.

I met up with an old friend recently whom I’ve always had feelings for. We had one fling many moons ago and then he disappeared, only to reappear about once a year to “check in.” I saw him recently for coffee. He didn’t want to sit, so we held our coffee, walked around Greenwich Village chatting until the sun went down, and then he walked me to my show.

I thought how much better it would have tasted if I could sit across from him while we drank it. Stay awhile. But he was never one for staying. Sometimes, coffee is just a way to pass briefly in the night. A sip here, a chat there.

It took him five years to even ask me to coffee — a little too late, and the coffee tasted stale.

So, I’m still waiting. For that perfect guy who knows how to make coffee just right. Who listens to how I like it and will be happy to bring it to me just so: a little bit of almond milk or oat milk, no sugar, no guilt, no shame, no anger, just love. Call me Princess & the Bean, but I don’t think I’m asking for too much.

Comedian of all trades.

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