This is a guest post by Courtney Denning, Education and Media Manager at Winans Chocolates + Coffees. In this article Courtney shares fond memories of her coffee-loving grandma.
My grandma was as vibrant as her name, Ruby. She was colorful, a real character, she could be loud and she didn’t mince words, but she was real, kind and loving. Ruby in full color.
Some of the things that make me think of my Grandma Ruby were the color red. She collected ruby glass and loved cardinals. I have always loved the fact that her name matched her favorite color. She made a family gathering feel festive and was always down for a game of cards, dominoes or a board game. Grandma Ruby loved Avon perfume. She had a very specific scent that she always wore. About a year after my grandma died we found an old empty bottle of her perfume. Opening it made us feel like she was in the room with us.
The smell of fresh lilac in spring also reminds me of Grandma Ruby. Lilac was one of her favorite flowers. Most of all she enjoyed the deep, rich aroma of a dark roasted coffee. The sound a good old regular coffee machine makes as it’s percolating away. Bulk coffee cans remind me of her too. She usually bought the bright red ones from Maxwell House. I’m not sure which she loved the most – the coffee inside or the color of the can.
A scent from childhood can evoke powerful memories.
When we encounter a new scent, we associate it with where we are, who we are with or what we are doing. My parents didn’t drink coffee at home when I was growing up. It’s likely that one of the first places I smelled coffee was at my grandma’s house. When I picture her today she’s usually laughing or smiling, with a cup of coffee in her hand.
At family gatherings, my Grandma would bring her own coffee maker if the hosts didn’t own one. My parents were one of those hosts so she had to lug along her coffee maker a lot. She took her coffee black — no cream or sugar to hide the rich flavor.
She gave me my first taste of coffee, by accident. I was seven or eight, and Grandma had a navy thermos with her. I thought when she asked if anyone wanted a sip, that the dark liquid in her thermos was Pepsi. I was thirsty so I took a big gulp – and got a big surprise. Not only was I expecting something sweet, but I was also expecting a cool and refreshing drink. Not a hot sip of very strong coffee. I was positive I’d never be a coffee drinker!
It was ten years before I tried coffee again. My best friend talked me into applying to work at Winans Chocolates + Coffees where she worked as a barista. On my first official day at work my manager, Sarah, made me a Winans specialty – a Wurtle. Winans makes a chocolate candy called a wurtle, it’s a caramel nut cluster enrobed in chocolate, aka a ‘turtle.’ This specialty drink is a hot drink made with espresso, steamed milk, pecan praline syrup, and chocolate and caramel sauce (topped with whipped cream if you’re feeling especially indulgent!). After that drink, I decided I liked this thing called coffee – who wouldn’t?!
I now work for Winans as the education and media manager. I came back to Winans about a year and a half after my grandma passed away. I’m confident that my grandma would be more than a little jealous of my job.
I often think of my Grandma when I’m surrounded by the sounds and smells of coffee brewing. I also think of her every morning when I start my work day with a fresh cup of coffee. I drink it black with no cream or sugar to hide that wonderful flavor.
Does the aroma of coffee make you think of a loved one? Let us know.