I took down the bag of coffee from our cupboard and poured them into the coffee grinder. I took a big inhale, as one does of fresh beans, but to my shock and dismay they smelled off. Like old, burnt coffee beans. I looked at the bag. French Roast. That may explain it, I thought. Just a bitter coffee bean. As I went through ritual of pouring in the water and turning the machine on I kept waiting for that delicious smell of coffee. It never came. Even fresh coffee smelled bitter and burnt. What the ……

I persisted. Other brands smelled the same burned and bitter.

I realized something after trying in vain to get my favorite brand of black coffee to smell amazing to me; Covid-19 had ruined my smeller. Not only that it ruined coffee for me. That once delicious smell that I would inhale and make me think of sunshine and better attitudes to come in the day was now lost. Gone.

Great. I kept thinking just great. Don’t worry. I am an over comer of obstacles. This is just one more thing for me to figure out and find a work around. I have been told I am pretty competitive and a little stubborn; so letting something like a virus defeat my connection to smell wasn’t going to happen.

See coffee and I had only been together for a little over 15 years. It was too short of a marriage to give up without a fight. We had a nice romance going. Coffee was there at 5 am when my 1 year old refused to stay in her crib and I realized that it was just going to be me to get up with her. She would sit in her high chair and have some milk; I would wipe the sleep from my eyes and watch brown liquid gold quietly fill up a glass pot. Only after the I poured my first cup would I look at her and ask what she wanted for breakfast. It was usually dealers choice, but I still liked to give her an option. Her only complaint was how slow the wait staff was being. Since that was me; she had to wait it out. Our clean up crew (Tiber the Lab and Rion the Rottweiler); however, were on it. They didn’t turn down tips in forms of pieces of food dropping from the sky either.
I would just stand with my hip against the counter and hold my warm cup of joe.

I quickly realized coffee was always there. It came in different forms but no less delicious. It was there to keep my eyelids pried open when heartbreak wanted me to sleep; it was also there after a night out of drinking and my head wouldn’t stop pounding. Just black please. Okay maybe two sugars and some cream. Or when I would sit on a comfy chair and laugh with my best friend.

Not too much though. Me and caffeine. We have an uneasy understanding. Too much and my heart rate gets a little crazy, I get a little hyper and I feel like a bumble bee (well what I imagine one feels like). I vibrate. I get lots done. I also have a slight anxiety attack along with my get up and go. It’s kinda like drinking whiskey. I am good with two. Four and I have creative ideas of what we should do next. They are rarely amazing ideas and always end up with a drive through looking for food.

I do miss the smell of coffee. I wish it would come back. I wish mint would taste right again as well. But then again, maybe there is a bright spot to all this. Maybe looking for healthier options is not such a bad thing. I chew a lot of gum, so I am sure my jaw appreciates the rest from the constant addiction of chewing. I have replaced black coffee (monk fruit and creamer) with sugar free vanilla lattes. I didn’t say I was giving up coffee. I just said I didn’t like the way it smelled; but lattes still smell and taste just as delicious. A 12 oz latte can last me most of the day and into the next; because that much caffeine is too too much for me. Some days I like to fly around like a bee and get so much more done.

I don’t think it’s the taste or smell of black coffee but what the routine meant to me. Slow steady mornings. A giggle from a little brown haired girl having a quiet breakfast with me. She’s now fifteen and learning to drive. She is just as independent now as she was then; and just as stubborn. She is learning to like a little coffee in her life as well. She always loves tea; but has dipped her toes into what coffee flavored drinks she likes too. I think mostly because she needs something to sip and something to drink to keep her eyelids open.

For now I will take my sugar free vanilla latte to go. It works with my hectic life pace of running late and being too chatty. It’s the stage of life I am in now. It warms me and keeps me going. Not too much. Some days I need a little more water. And some days I still drink it black, a little cream and two sugars while on the sofa waiting for Sunday Brunch. It’s just as good.