The author's friends surprise her on her birthday with a "Camp Holly" themed party in her back yard. Author on the left.
I've never liked coffee. The musty smell annoys me in the same way dirty shoes deflate others. I’ve resorted to shallow breathing when close to those who brew pot after pot of fresh coffee. Every part of a coffee drinker smells after sipping coffee: their breath, their breath and their breath.
I’m one of those people who wakes without chugging caffeine, so I have never made coffee in my kitchen. Guests to my home struggled with the lack of wake-up choices. I tried to appease them with instant or if given notice, bottled coffee from Starbuck’s, but they glared at me with a hunger that’s impossible to quench with prepackaged choices.
When I first moved back to the Hudson Valley five years ago, I solved this age-old problem. I lived down the street from a convenience store that had, I was told, very good coffee. Friends quickly learned to buy themselves a cup before they visited my coffee-less home.
It was a perfect plan.
When my friends Amy and Tim came to visit from Colorado for Christmas one year, I asked them what kind of coffee they wanted in the morning.
“We don’t want to trouble you…”
I boasted that I could serve them any coffee within minutes and challenged them to prove me wrong.
They placed an order with me and while they showered, I walked to the convenience store, bought two coffees and was back home before they noticed I was missing. I poured the steaming hot coffee into giant handmade mugs from my collection of pottery and handed them to my friends.
Amy cradled her mug in her hands and thanked me for becoming a coffee aficionado with as much gusto as if I had flown her to Japan for breakfast. I nodded solemnly, enjoying the praise. They might have never known the secret to my coffee brewing techniques, but Tim asked for seconds, and so I handed him the to-go cup and suggested he pour it into the mug for the sake of presentation.
We laughed for a long time.
I bought a house far away from the convenience store, which friends found inconvenient. So for years they’ve lugged coffee makers and coffee grounds to my house when we got together.
It was a perfect plan.
Last winter my sister demanded I get a coffee maker as if it were a missing link to hosting; I acquiesced. In February I bought a drip coffee pot. I went to a place in town that roasted good quality coffee beans and sheepishly asked the clerk to recommend a coffee to please a crowd.
The clerk described the nuances of flavors and I was too embarrassed to tell him I would brew it with the windows open, serve it while holding my breath and never take a sip. It was wrong to ask a complete stranger to choose my coffee, so I texted my sister and let her choose.
I had everything I needed to coffee my friends.
Then the pandemic hit and my party hosting ways dissolved.
In July friends threw me a surprise birthday party at my house—a perfect time to use my coffee maker—but I was so surprised to find a socially-distanced themed party in full swing in my backyard, that I joined in the festivities and forgot the coffee.
How fortunate I am to have friends who love me without the promise of coffee.
I recently found my unopened coffee maker in the basement, tucked it under a shelf and gave away that introductory pound of coffee.
When the pandemic is over and I can throw parties once again, tell my friends to drive by the convenience store on their way over.
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Holly Winter Huppert is a writer, a photographer and a kindergarten teacher living in upstate NY. Along with teaching and writing, Holly runs two small businesses: a publishing house (Winuply Press) and a Skin Care Company (Worthy Skin Care.)
Check out Holly's Writing Masterclass for Parents of Young Children, a work of heart that Holly did as a service to parents during the pandemic. Holly's area of expertise is in teaching writing to children, and she shares her knowledge in this video. No charge. No signups. Just information. (Want more connecting children and writing? Check out Holly's book of children's writing prompts: Write Now: Ideas for Writers.)
Check out Holly Winter Huppert’s latest book: Cheese for Breakfast: My Turkish Summer. Huppert writes with her signature humor, honesty and insights.
"This book is a joy ride of surprises; a perfect escapist read." Winuply Press
Join Holly as she finds adventure everywhere she goes as climbs castles, eats from communal bowls, joins a 40-minute water fight from the back of a truck, lives with a Turkish family, visits remote areas and marks two lifelong dreams off of her bucket list: visit the ancient city of Ephesus and watch the Whirling Dervishes whirl in prayer
Follow Holly's personal page on Instagram, Her page for Winuply Press on Instagram, and her page for Worthy Skin Care on Instagram. Or e-mail her at mshollywinter at Gmail dot com to book a speaking engagement or ask any questions.
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