A CUP of coffee a day keeps the drowsiness away. I cannot start the day without a cup of coffee, I always say. I should be happy that I know Sept. 29 is National Coffee Day... with Oct. 1 as the International one.
And since I am running out rhymes, I am switching to prose mode.
Some of my friends say drinking coffee is an American import that Filipinos have incorporated in their lifestyle. But some of my other friends say that coffee drinking has been with us for at least 300 centuries.
“Not entirely true, but neither is it false,” my Uncle Gustave said.
“Uncle, you can’t be half-right and half-wrong. You have to choose,” I said.
“Well, if you’re talking American, you could be right in your premise. But if you’re asking me who arrived first, ‘The American or the Spanish?’ I have to say Spanish,” my uncle replied.
The Batangas kapeng barako is as Filipino as it can get. Charge it to the Spanish friars who introduced coffee beans to our ancestors in the 1740s (America colonized the country from 1898 to 1946).
“At least they introduced something we can drink today,” said Peetong, my cousin Dona’s husband. “By the way, black coffee is coffee with nothing added to it.”
Lipa, Batangas is the birthplace of our country’s coffee industry. And perhaps, our culture of drinking coffee early morning and dipping into it pan de sal, a crusty bread. “And the rest is history,” my niece Krystalle said.
My other niece, Ellen said, “That’s the lazy way of saying ‘I have nothing more to say,’ Krys.”
“People keep saying ‘barako,’ but don’t know what it means,” Dona said.
In came my Aunt Tita Blitte, a woman advanced in age but very young in outlook and interest in life. “I do! It means bull and I don’t mean that kapeng barako is bull! It also means male bull or as an idiom, manly.”
How do you celebrate the unofficial coffee day?
“Deliciously!” piped in Pannon, who is forbidden to drink coffee because he is just a boy.
My friend Illustracio said, “Go to your favorite coffee shop, order you favorite coffee paired with your favorite friend.”
“Are you serious? I thought you’d say ‘favorite dessert.’ But I will celebrate the day by baking banana cake spiced with coffee,” Ellen said.
Peetong said, “I will have coffee with cream laced with rum. Or maybe just have rum.”
Dona said, “I will use coffee to flavor some of the gravies I make for my special burgers.”
My aunt said, “Since I like making chocolate bars, I will add coffee to some of my old choco recipes.”
Krystalle, a fashionista who has talent for visual art, said, “I will design coffee prints for my bags.”
It was Uncle Gustave who capped the day like cream on top of good Irish coffee.
“I will have coffee now. No cream, please.”