I found this new Dunkin' Donuts ground coffee for sale at Target yesterday. I bought it because it was considerably cheaper (50%, to be exact) than the Starbucks I normally buy. And I used to like Dunkin' Donuts coffee way back when......
I wanted it to taste right, so in a move totally out of character, I actually followed the directions printed on the bag. It said to use a heaping tablespoon for 6 ounces of water. I measured the 6 ounces of water. I was a bit uncertain about the "heaping' part- summoning my very best judgment, I "heaped", creating a very reasonable-looking mountain of ground coffee on top of the tablespoon. (Being reasonable is not my area of expertise.)
As soon as the 6 ounces of water began to boil, I rushed it off the stove and poured it over the heaping tablespoon of grounds, where it drained slowly through the coffee filter. Then I allowed it to cool slightly.
I wasn't expecting much, so you can imagine my surprise when my first sip of this freshly-brewed coffee summoned long lost images of my mother. She had been a coffee drinker- not to the point of excess, mind you (she was a reasonable woman) but I'd say she used to drink a couple of percolated cups every morning. And on very special occasions she'd have coffee with desert.
I remember the mornings when she'd let me dunk graham cracker sandwiches into her coffee cup. I was preschool aged, and the sandwiches were just 2 stacked crackers with butter in between. I can still picture that long-ago breakfast table, with just the two of us sitting there, sometimes with the morning newspaper spread out, sometimes with her scurrying off to get dressed, leaving me to indulge in her coffee and crackers. It seemed like such a sinful treat.
That coffee wasn't Dunkin' Donuts, however- it was A&P brand. Back then, Dunkin' Donuts coffee had to be purchased at a Dunkin' Donuts store, and there was one within walking distance of the house in which I grew up. It was a big deal for us to go there for coffee and one of their vast assortment of donuts and pastries.
Looking back, I suppose that was my mother's version of decadence- having coffee and a donut at Dunkin' Donuts. (How she spawned a child like me I'll never know.) I was her willing partner in caloric crime, sometimes ingesting multiple fried pastries in one sitting at Dunkin' Donuts' counter. (They were always busy, 24 hours a day, so a booth was unthinkable. We nearly always sat at the counter.) I even had coffee, with lots of rich cream. I enjoyed observing the characters who were fellow customers as well, and the whirling waitresses. Everybody seemed upbeat from their caffeine and sugar highs. My own big sister was a waitress there for a year or so. (She seemed annoyed when my mother and I showed up during her shift, as if we cramped her style.)
Every time I go back for a visit, I have to stop at Dunkin' Donuts on my way out of town, although it does bother me to be there without my mother.
Today's Dunkin' Donuts coffee tasted exactly like it did back then, even though I now drink it black, no donuts. If I try hard enough, maybe I can summon the spirit of my mother, asking me if I have any Half & Half in the fridge, or at least some butter for those graham crackers.......