Thoughts on Coffee

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The best way to drink your coffee is by ridding it of any resemblance to the taste of coffee. Mrs. Steo drinks her coffee only with coffee delight low fat caramel creamer, which just so happened to be discontinued this summer. She hasn’t had coffee for 3 months now. Rebecca Harris prefers the taste of her coffee without disguise. She drinks hers cold and black, with a side of Adderall. Aunt Pat offers coffee with cream and sugar to her house guests practically as they walk through the door, explaining that it’s a simple act of generosity.  

While Aunt Pat prefers the shared hospitable cup of coffee,  my cup is primarily consumed in solitude. As the coffee percolates, so do my thoughts.  While I’m waiting for that cup of coffee to brew, my head may crack itself open to a pool of introspection for me to dip my toes in or even dive into. Sometimes these thoughts travel me to the distant future, poking at scenarios that depict my dreams. Or perhaps my thoughts will simply lead me to him.

I can still recall quite distinctly the first time I ever had coffee. It was a crisp fall day, and I was five years old and sitting in my father’s lap on the sidelines of my brother’s soccer game. My dad watched as the kids scurried around the field all the while trying to keep me from fidgeting right out of his lap.

“Daddy, I want to go to the snack bar for hot chocolate!”

“Well, you can’t go alone, and I’m not taking you. Here. Try this, it’s coffee. It’s like hot chocolate for adults.”

My dad proceeded to hand over a white paper mug containing a dark liquid, steam rolling off the top. Taking the cup from him with both hands, I took a small sip.

“ This is the worst thing I’ve ever tasted !” I recoiled in disgust for the burnt bitter taste in my mouth. “I will never drink coffee again.”

My dad simply laugh, “I’m sure you won’t be saying that forever.”

And now I find myself gaining inexplicable insight and comfort from the warm brew. I can’t help but feel a type of fulfillment from getting my coffee, beyond the simple need for morning energy.  Yet I find I am not alone in my conquest for coffee, as it has become a culture. Step foot into any coffee shop and you’ll find much more than those sipping their brew simply for their daily boost.  

With coffee becoming a commodity amongst a wide variety of people, it seems without question that coffee harbors a social aspect. In fact, coffee has always had its social side.  At my neighborhood Starbucks, I order a plain black coffee. The barista seems relieved for the chance to simply pour some coffee from a pot to a mug opposed to whipping together a skinny non fat caramel macchiato without whipped cream. My mind starts to drift of the days in high school when a friend from my childhood, Greg, would meet me at the downtown Starbucks for our afternoon talks and homework sessions. The bitter taste of the coffee I sip on reminds me of the bitter words Greg spit at me, the bitter words that ended a friendship.

I’m not the only one who’s experienced the taste of coffee coinciding with the taste of life. No cup of coffee has ever been as bitter as the cup you receive from the hospital in the waiting room. Anxious to hear the truth from the doctor who could walk out those double doors in his white scrubs any minute now. But you just sit there and sip, awaiting the news. Then there’s the bitter cup of coffee the military member so rarely gets, and when he does it’s as strong as the war that rages on just outside his camp.  No cup of coffee has ever been as warm as the one you had on your first coffee date, sitting at a small table in your small town coffee shop giggling and making small talk over the filled mugs. Perhaps you best cup of coffee came to you all the way in Paris as you sat at a corner coffee shop observing the Parisians and drinking authentic french press. Or maybe your best cup of coffee came from your best friend after your first break up. Sitting at the kitchen table, she listened to you cry, offering words of comfort and sips of coffee.  A cup of coffee can even be a savior after blurry nights, curing heartache and hangovers.

While the simple cup of coffee can bring far more to an individual beyond the need for energy, it is often left unrecognized. That morning cup of coffee we drink in solitude, with friends, family, and loved ones goes unappreciated far too often. As we spend our days gathering in coffeeshops to socialize and offering a cup of coffee for hospitality,  sometimes we need to step back and appreciate the cup of joe as a symbol ; a symbol of generosity, tranquility, and comfort.

(Original title: The Coincidence of Coffee. Original draft written by Hannah Knighton in 2014)