Dave Brubeck and the smell of coffee
A few evenings ago at a Christmas dinner party, I decided to hold a sort of stealth memorial to the jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck during the cocktail hour, since he’d died only a few days earlier. I loaded the CD player with his music while we drank wine and waited for the pork roast to finish cooking. Read More
One of my guests told us that the smell of coffee is the most recognizable of any aroma in the world, at least to North Americans. He couldn’t recall where he came across this fact, but we all agreed that it must be true because we all had such intense associations with the smell.
For me, it is inextricably linked to the process of writing my college thesis. I would listen to Dave Brubeck albums on my record player and struggle with One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a Styrofoam cup of school coffee nearby.
Another guest cited the Hungarian Café at 111th Street and Columbus Avenue in New York, where he used to sit with a college classmate and “think big thoughts together. The coffee was just terrible, but refills were free.”
A woman friend recalled her honeymoon in Venice 60 years ago, where she learned to love espresso each morning after “the astounding activities of the previous night!”
My guests began to demand Christmas carols. The very fragrant pork was finally cooked. Off we went to the table.
I served coffee after the meal even though it was almost midnight when it was time for dessert. As the rich, vaguely chocolatey aroma of brewing Café Svenska reached each of us at the table, we inhaled deeply and smiled at one another. The great musician and the novelist have both quit this world, but the novels, the music, friendship – and the smell of coffee – live on.
– written by Margot Dockrell