My grandmother heaped spoonfuls of Nescafe
Into a cup, dissolved it with a little milk
Then poured the boiling water over it.
Telling us about the soldiers in the camps
And their tinned food, she’d say
“Is how Americans makes coffee”
and we are Americans now”

My mother used a percolator
The coffee rising up into the grounds
through the metal filter
Then sinking back into the pot.
It always tasted vaguely of metal to me,
But better than YiaYia’s.

My filter is a red cone
I’ve had since I was a hip young wife
I pour the hot water through
Using snowy white filters
Then unbleached filters
And now renewable, bamboo

I remember when my son rebelled
Against my generational take on coffee
And bought himself a French press
Feeling very grown up
Pressing, leaving the spent grounds
at the bottom of the carafe
And making the coffee much too strong

for the dverse prompt of 3/31/20: red
and #1 in NaPoWriMo 2020

14 thoughts on “Stronger in each generation

    • I’ve been walking around the last 24 hours murmuring “red, red, hmmm red” and fortunately social-distanced so no can hear me lol. It finally came to me when I made the coffee this morning.

    • I’ve been wanting to do a “journey” poem (I was going to do my walk to the store, but then decided to shelter one more day), and the red prompt wasn’t fitting into it. Then I got the NaPoWriMo “metaphor” prompt and it kinda fell into place.

  1. I hadn’t really noticed the title until I went to close it down. It made me wonder if YiaYia was a new immigrant to America, and each generation becomes more embedded in the States.

    • War refugee, and very committed, as was her daughter (my mother) to “becoming Americans.” It was revelatory to me when I started encountering people from non-immigrant families in grade school, and learned how “real Americans” regarded all the stuff we’d adopted from our outside interpretation.

  2. I LOVE this look at the generations through coffee. How sweet and funny and clever. I love this poem so much!

  3. I remember drinking Nescafe instant coffee long ago, but now the easiest method (for me) is the press. No bothering with filters. I suspect it does make a stronger brew.

    • My son buying that coffee press is one of my sweet memories because it felt like such an act of rebellion in the nature of “my mother does this wrong”. And my grandmother’s Nescafe, because that’s what the soldiers drank.

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