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Percolate on it: An old hot cup o’ Joe has gone trendy

POSTED: January 5, 2014 1:30 a.m.

My daddy liked his coffee hot. We had a West Bend percolator that was a fixture in our kitchen for years.

Over the years, he replaced the cord and the glass top on it and it kept on percolating. That thing went on vacation with us. We might forget the map or suntan lotion, but that percolator was in the car.

We never owned the genuine Mr. Coffee machine. I think we tried a knock-off brand, but it was never as good as the old percolator, at least in dad’s way of thinking.

My dad died before the era of microwave ovens. The early models were $200 or more and we didn’t buy one. If we had, I think it may have become a device for heating up already brewed coffee.

I was walking through a store last week and noticed all of the various devices for making coffee, cappuccino, espresso, latte and assorted other hot beverages.

We actually own one of those gizmos that brew a little basket of hot beverage. The little baskets of stuff cost a pretty penny and I’m not sure about the whole convenience of brewing hot drinks a single cup at a time.

Let me fess up for a moment: I’m not a coffee drinker. I watched my daddy consume gallons of the stuff and just never felt the need to join him. Quite frankly, I don’t know a latte from a cappuccino and all that other fancy stuff.

Coffee was always the go-to beverage in the movies. If a group of cowboys were setting up a campsite, the first thing they did was bring out the coffee pot. Coffee was also a major ingredient in those cowboy favorites, red-eye and sawmill gravy.

In the Westerns, if a guy was trying to recover from a bullet wound, they were sure to give him a shot of coffee or whiskey or both.

Later, when TV was new, the dads like Ozzie Nelson, Ward Cleaver and Jim Anderson were always chatting about things over coffee. If someone came to visit, mom suddenly appeared with a pot and all the fixings for coffee.

Coffee began changing as we saw the introduction of instant and decaffeinated coffees. My daddy never cared for either. Robert Young, who played Jim Anderson in "Father Knows Best" eventually became a pitch-man for Sanka, the first national brand of decaf.

In the 1970s, Baseball great Joe DiMaggio became the first spokesman for Mr. Coffee. Having a drip coffeemaker with a glass carafe became the status symbol of the time.

Now, depending on your preferences, you can have your choice of any number of flavored coffees. What’s more, the whole coffee business is a multibillion-dollar enterprise with what seems like a coffee specialty shop on every corner.

There are even churches that boast what brand of coffee they serve during Sunday school.

Although, he has been gone for 30 years, I guess my daddy would have been most surprised by the fact that folks are willing to pay $3 for a cup of his favorite drink.

They still make a percolator like the one he used to have but it is hidden on the department store shelves, far behind the various devices that will spit out a cup of something that someone is bound to like.

But I still don’t think it would make a cup hot enough for him.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.


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