Coffee Traditions, One Shiny Pot at a Time

I woke up every morning of my childhood, it seems, to the permeating aroma of Maxwell House coffee and the distinctive gurgling, swishing sound of my mother’s percolator. I loved walking out to the kitchen to pour my cereal and instinctively take a peek at the coffee’s rise and fall in that clear-glass-bulb-thing at the top of the stainless steel pot.


But then, as far as the coffee maker memories of my life go, at some point, in some way, there was no longer a percolator in our kitchen. Without any family discussionand certainly without consulting mea drip coffee maker showed up on the counter. I would guess it came from Sears, like all the other new gadgets which entered our home in the 70s.

Instead of gurgling and burping and swishing and steaming, the new machine just dripped. This coffee dripping did nothing for me on my school mornings, not to mention there was no longer that glorious rise and fall of coffee in the glass bulb. But mom seemed fine with the modern fraud of a coffee maker, and that was that.

Although I loved the smell of coffee, I didn’t start drinking it until the winter of 1990 when Jenna was born. My mom spent a lot of time pampering me on those cold days I lived with her while my husband was overseas. Mom made me coffee, raspberry cream coffee to be exact. With the raspberry flavor significantly overriding the coffee flavor, she lured me into her coffee world one small cream-diluted cup at a time.

I spent the next two and a half decades making coffee every morning in my own kitchens everywhere we lived, and I can’t count how many drip coffee makers I went through: cheap, semi-cheap, and my favorite Gevalia which sadly only lasted a year. Then came a birthday gift, my beloved Keurig, the best thing that ever happened to my morning schedule. I couldn’t have been happier, coffee wise, until the day I sat in my friend’s kitchen a few months ago and spotted something shiny on her counter top.

Is that a percolator?

Yes, indeed. A real, live percolator, the first I’d seen up close and in person in a lifetime. Honestly, my heart jumped a little, and at home that night I googled the price. Would it be wrong to buy myself a present for no special reason except nostalgia?

I thought about my possible purchase for two weeks and finally ordered a Farberware 12-Cup Percolator on Amazon. I paid $66.96, two-day shipping included, to bring a little piece of my past into my present. For those who care, here is my non-scientific analysis:

1. The coffee tastes better, seems hotter, and feels smoother, to me at least, but I know I’m partial.

2. The production isn’t as quick as with my Keurig, but I can make six cups in less than seven minutes. Yes, I timed it.

3. That gurgling, swishing, steaming sound is as mesmerizing as I remember.

2015-04-19+15.39.16It’s amazing how a simple, shiny coffee device could make me smile morning after morning. Hindsight, I kind of wish I’d bought a percolator with a glass bulb on top, like my mom had back in the day. Yet, if I close my eyes and stand still for a moment, I can see the rise and fall of the percolating coffee I remember so well from our kitchen in Lombard, Illinois.

Proverbs 14 tells us that a wise woman builds her home. I’m just continuing this building process and preserving the Yarrow-Pirrie coffee tradition, one shiny pot at a time.

Are you turning your own prized memories into traditions?