Why am I writing about coffee? I don't drink a lot, usually two or three small cups a day. I always have tea for breakfast, unless I'm on a plane, where the tea is usually horrible. There again, so is the coffee! I often write during the morning, and by 10.30 I need refueling, with coffee, in order to keep going.
When I was young there was a coffee we used to drink called Camp Coffee. It was liquid, in a bottle that looked more like a sauce bottle and was coffee combined with chicory. I'm sure I wouldn't like it now. l haven't seen it for years and just googled it to see if it is still in production, which it is. It was reputedly created so that soldiers, serving in India in the days of the British Empire could have an instant coffee, rather than grinding coffee beans. What is interesting though, in the light of the current #blacklivesmatter is what happened to the label over the years. The first labels showed a Sikh man, holding a tray, serving a seated Scottish soldier. Later they removed the tray, so he was just standing rather stiffly by the side of the sitting soldier, but by 2006 they allowed the Sikh to sit down, next to the Scotsman, and even gave him a cup of coffee to drink, so he has graduated from being a servant to a fellow soldier.
The first time I went to America, in the 1980s, you were still talking about the days when in a British cafe, coffee was spooned out of an instant coffee catering tin, the size of a drum. It was such a novelty to be in an American diner or cafe, where you were offered instant refills from a waiter or waitress circulating with a jug of coffee. After a few visits I realised that I didn't really like the taste of the coffee, a combination of being weak, with a slightly burnt taste. Maybe it has improved now, I haven't been to the USA for a while.
Much better was the taste of coffee in Italy. I can remember, on a trip to Florence, where we taking students from Loughborough College of Art and design on a drawing trip, the frequent stops at a cafes for a coffee to give us a boost as we explored the city. In contrast to our American experiences coffee was a small shot of espresso, and like all good Italians, was drunk standing up. On another drawing trip, this time in Spain, I remember the coffee was enlived with a small shot of alcohol. My mother likes a shot of brandy in her coffee - so did her mother too. I'm fond of it too myself but we rarely have any brandy in the house - if we did I would drink too much coffee!