Ronda Rich




In the little kitchen of my childhood home, there was coffee every morning.


Mama owned a decorative percolator from the 1950s, which bubbled delightfully. But, unless there was company visiting, she did not bother.

There is a kettle on the stove that whistled when the water boiled. She put a teaspoon of Maxwell House Instant coffee in a cup then poured in hot water. To this day, I still use Maxwell House Instant coffee. The only exception was a couple of years when I handled media for the Folger’s-sponsored stock car team. Believing in loyalty, I drank Folger’s during those years. As soon as those years were over, I ran back to Maxwell House.

My sister says that I was no more than 18 months old, still in a high chair, when I began drinking coffee. I begged for it in my sippy cup so Mama would drop a tablespoon into my milk. Gradually, it grew to where I was drinking an entire cup with cream and sugar by the time that I was four.

Mama cooked a full, hot breakfast every morning including a pan of biscuits. By the time I was in the first grade, I had started a lifelong habit. No food for breakfast.

“Do you want anything?” Mama would ask.

“No,” I’d replied. “Just coffee.”

Every morning, when I arose and begin to dress for school, I would go in the kitchen to find my cup of coffee perfectly prepared and waiting on the edge of the kitchen table. I would carry it back to my room and sip on it while I dressed.

Tink, as y’all all know, grew up very different than my simple, country upbringing. One night, a few years ago, we were watching an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Mary was Tink’s stepmother. In the episode, she was in the kitchen, making coffee, while she talked to Rhoda. She used a glass carafe in which she placed a filter, filled it with ground coffee, and poured hot water through it.

“My father and Mary always used that carafe. It’s called a Chemex,” he said it with a hint of nostalgia in his voice. “They had one at their house and in Malibu.”

I watched as a hint of sadness crossed his face. You know that look. It’s the expression someone has when loved ones have left this world and the memory is so sweet that it hurts.

The next day, I began a search for that coffee carafe and found it surprisingly easy to locate. Apparently, it is a timeless type of coffee maker used only by those of a certain class and higher bred taste than others of us.

When the gift arrived and I presented it to Tink, he was, at first, stunned. He stared at it for a moment. Then, his eyes glistened with a memory. He gathered me in his arms and hugged me tightly.

Since that day, he has used that carafe every morning. He has a particular way of making coffee. He heats the water in the microwave until it is boiling then, carefully, pours the water through fine coffee grounds, then pours it into a mug, adding half and half.

Next to the lovely glass coffee creator is my pottery mug, waiting for its heaping spoonful of coffee, two scoops of collagen, and Coffee Mate. I’m crazy about my Carnation Coffee Mate and not a bit interested in going to milk or cream.

The other morning, I went into the kitchen to make my cup of coffee. Tink had risen early, made his fancy coffee, and retreated to his office to study the Bible. For a moment, I studied the two. I gingerly touched the carafe, still warm. I picked up the pottery mug.

Then, I smiled.

Say what you may, but John Tinker and I are still true to the roots of our raisings.

Ronda Rich is the author of the best-selling new novel St.Simons: A Stella Bankwell Mystery. Visit to sign up for her free weekly newsletter.

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