Mommy has always loved her coffee.
For many, many decades her day began, and ended with it. As a teenager, I always knew better than to talk to her, or ask for permission from her before she had her first cup of coffee for the day. Always black with sugar, never any cream.

At home we always had a huge jar of Hills Brothers, Tasters Choice, or Sanka. Then, she discovered the coffee maker, and so it would always be brewed. “Walang kuwenta ang kape, kung hinde.” (Coffee ia no good, if it’s not brewed) Sometime in the 90s she did a film with the late Mark Gil who introduced her to the coffee press. From that day forward, it had to be coffee made from a coffee press, and Mark became her favorite Eigenmann.

Mom used to scoff at instant coffee. This was before the time of the three-in-one as we know it now. Whenever we were in a restaurant and the waiter would say “instant lang po meron” she was quick to say, “Ang cheap niyo naman. Sabihin mo sa may-ari dapat may brewed coffee kayo.” (You’re so cheap. Tell the owner, you need to have brewed coffee) Only mommy could get away with saying things like that and not hurt the other person’s feelings. True enough, the next time we visited the restaurant, the waiter happily told her, “Ma’am may brewed coffee na po kami!” (Ma’am we now have brewed coffee!) Mom would then flash her widest grin and say, “Very good! Babalik na ako dito palagi!”

Tropical Hut, the Unimart coffee shop, and Mr. Donut in Greenhills were her favorite tambayan. Mommy was a creature of habit. She knew the names of all the waiters, and they of course knew her. She also knew the life stories of her favorite waiters and would share them with me. Mom knew where all the good coffee places in Greenhills were. Her ultimate favorite was the coffee at Mr. Donut, which she would visit almost everyday until the day that she slipped in the restaurant. She never returned after, and that was that.

Mom loved her coffee strong, and when I used to call her out for drinking coffee past 6PM, she would always say, “Artista ako. Hindi kami tinatablan niyan.” (I’m an actress, that has no effect on me.) On the other hand, she never allowed me to take coffee until I was done with school. Her reason? “Nakakanipis ng buto. Take milk instead. Twice a day. Someday, magpapasalamat ka sa akin, she would admonish me. And so it was that I would drink fresh milk everyday, twice a day until the age of 21. Thanks to my mom’s wisdom, my bones continue to be in very good shape.

However, when the coffee would be too strong, Mommy would cringe and call the waiter right away. “Hijo, para naman papatay ng barangay itong kape ninyo! Paki-lagyan mo ng mainit na tubig.” (Son, your coffee is so strong it could kill a whole town! Please add hot water to it.) The waiter would oblige, and in an instant give her back a diluted version. “Ok na. Buhay na ulit ang barangay,” she would say to the waiter with a naughty smile.

Mom was advised to quit coffee in her early 80s. Doctors orders. Too much stimulant. Coffee has now been replaced by the occasional coffee flavored milk drink for seniors. When I sit across and watch her enjoy her coffee-milk, it warms my heart to see her just as happy.

© Cathy Sanchez Babao, June 18, 2022

Mommy clowning around on New Year’s Eve 1988

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