Coffee in a sippy cup—or how I have officially become my mother

This is me on a visit to Grandma and Pop-Pop's. My sippy cup is the orange one on the counter behind me. My brother's is the blue cup in the foreground. Both once held coffee.

I started drinking coffee when I was five years old. Half milk, half coffee, lots of sugar. In my sippy cup. It may be the reason I am so much shorter than both of my parents.

But I loved it—I loved the sweet milkiness and the warm comfort of my sippy cup. I loved reaching for a toothpick when the milk skin would plug up the tiny holes of the cup’s spout. I loved that I was given this “adult” treat in the morning. It felt special.

My mother is very particular about her coffee, which may be why she understood that her young kids would want it: Because a morning doesn’t start off right without a nice hot cup of coffee.

Hot being the operative word.

She insists on heating up her milk before pouring it into her coffee. Otherwise, she claims, the milk makes the coffee to cold to drink.

For the longest time, I thought this was just part of my mother’s quirky insistence that food must be hotter than the sun in order to be edible. When we were teenagers, my brother and I dubbed our mother “Micro Mommy” because she heated leftovers up in the microwave for a MINIMUM of four minutes. The food would be too hot to eat for what felt like an hour.

She once even demanded steamed milk with her coffee at a country diner in the middle of Ohio—the kind of place where the only coffee options are “regular” and “decaf.” (This occurred after my entire extended family made a spectacle out of wondering what a “grit” is.) The waitress’ jaw dropped; the locals at the tables around us stared. My mother settled for microwaved milk.

I’ve always thought that this was one of her picky quirks—that, or she’s been eating scalding food for so long that she simply doesn’t register the heat unless it’s practically boiling. But the other day, in yet another “holy shit, I am my mother” moment, I took a sip of my freshly-brewed coffee and observed, much to my shock:

This is not hot enough.

The next day, I microwaved my milk before pouring my tiny pot of french press into my mug.

It made a world of difference. My mother, I am learning, is always right.

“The problem is,” she once told me, “I like a lot of milk in my coffee. If you put that much cold milk in your coffee, it turns the coffee cold.”

I like a lot of milk in my coffee, too, a taste I probably cultivated at age five when I was enjoying my morning sippy cup of coffee before getting on the bus and heading in for a long, grueling day of kindergarten. The recipe has changed only slightly: just a little more coffee than milk and a smidge of sugar.

The only real difference is that I use an actual mug these days.

And now I make sure my coffee is piping hot.

This is me on a visit to Grandma and Pop-Pop's. My sippy cup is the orange one on the counter behind me. My brother's is the blue cup in the foreground. Both once held coffee.

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About Laura Parisi

I am a writer who loves food, gardening, donuts and dogs. We tell stories to remember them. These are the food stories I want to remember.

8 responses to “Coffee in a sippy cup—or how I have officially become my mother”

  1. Sylvia Lindman says :

    Laura, I’ve been waiting for another post! Glad it’s here!

  2. scgirl529 says :

    I have also been anxiously waiting to read more from you, and what a satisfying delivery! I must be your mother too because I agree that the amount of cold milk cools the coffee too much; these days I usually just settle for the dry creamer, though :-p So glad to hear from you!

  3. Carole Neeves says :

    Sorry to be picky – but isn’t the blue cup Sean’s slanted cup? And you and your mom are right about cold milk in hot coffee. At coffee shops, I have to ask to have the coffee zapped in the microwave after I’ve put the milk in.

  4. Laura Parisi says :

    Yep – that’s Sean’s blue cup. She would give him coffee in that on the weekends (he liked it). Kieran’s cup was yellow but I don’t think he ever drank coffee – pretty sure he thought it was gross. It was just me and Sean who liked it. Or at least that’s how I remember it.

    • Carole says :

      So Sean was a coffee drinker! I didn’t know that; if I had known, I would have given him coffee too. (or maybe not – I wasn’t a coffee drinker at the time, so I might have thought it would be yucky to give it to Sean).

  5. Ernay says :

    It’s amazing and ironic both that I have so much in common with EK. I write this as I’m bitching about how lukewarm my milky coffee is on a cold rainy day in NYC

  6. coffee in a cup says :

    i came across your blog quite randomly as i have my own blog called ‘coffee in a cup’ and when i did a search for the term ‘coffee in a cup’ on google to see what would surface, i found this post :)
    and it made me smile as i too started drinking coffee at the age of 5 (it was a treat whenever i went to visit my grandmother) and i too had lots and lots of milk in my coffee :) neither am i very tall (5.2), so i can totally relate to your ‘i-think-i’ll-blame-my-early-coffee-days-for-my-(lack-of)-height’ track of thought ;)

    • Laura Parisi says :

      I am so glad to hear someone else started drinking coffee so early! Oftentimes when I tell people about that they look at me like my mother must’ve been crazy to do that. But I really don’t think there was actually all that much coffee in my cup—it was a pretty small sippy cup!

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