“Did the boys have their coffee this morning?”
This had to be the strangest question I had ever heard someone ask me. After all, my boys are under three years of age. Every time that the nanny would ask me this question, I had to do a double take until I realized what she was trying to say.
An important staple in most Latin American homes is freshly, ground coffee. I remember growing up smelling coffee brewing in every house that I used to visit with my parents. My dad often drank instant coffee at home, so we usually saw someone drinking it every day.
However, I never actually got into drinking coffee myself. On top of that, I married a guy who also doesn’t drink coffee.
Although coffee is not an exclusive trademark of South American homes, there is a distinct difference between the use of coffee in the United States and in Latin America. In the U.S. coffee is still primarily an “adult” drink. Pregnant women are told to avoid it as much as possible and parents of young children are told not to give it to them.
Here in Ecuador, parents are encouraged to begin giving their young children small tastes of coffee to help them adjust to the flavor.
Asking someone if they “had their coffee” had become synonymous with asking if they had eaten their breakfast. This was a tradition I had never noticed growing up here as a child, but I find it quite humorous now. Although I now realize what they are trying to ask me when they ask if the boys have had their coffee, I still balk at responding with a “yes.”
Hey, I don’t even drink coffee, so I’m not going to feed it to my kids.