Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Jolt of Java - My Love Affair with Coffee

My relationship with coffee began when I was in high school. If I remember correctly, a good friend of mine took me out to dinner before we stopped by one of his favorite little coffee houses. It was a warm house-like building, wooden floors and cozy couches, soft yellow lighting. The menu of drinks was posted in handwritten lettering, and I blinked up, trying to decipher what the words meant and which type of drink would be least offensive to my still-maturing palate. He suggested a mocha, just right for a girl with a sweet tooth, and that is when my love of coffee began.

Since then, I have so many memories that happened over a cup of coffee. My high school girlfriends and I would go to a little coffee shop to chat, once we graduated from hanging out at the mall and the movie theater. It had small pieces of art from local artists on the walls and a bar in the back that we basically ignored at that age (the coffee was strong enough for us, I suppose). We would try not to get kicked out after sitting there for three hours nursing one drink, planning out our weekend, complaining about school work, sharing secrets.

In college, I would often stop by the student center for a cup of flavored coffee before a boring class (econ, anyone?). It was a treat to get me through the freezing walk across campus and the subsequent mind-numbingly confusing class. Then when I was hunkered down in my dorm room, pounding out a paper the night before it was due, I would run to the basement vending machine and buy a bottled Frappacino. The boost would push me through the last few hours of homework, and I would crash into bed with my heart still beating under the influence of caffeine and my mind still racing against the clock, the impending deadline, the first light of sunrise. Starbucks was over-priced for my college-student mind (too many "points" off my dining hall plan), but I tried my fair share of their beverages. 

Little did I know how I would become a frequent visitor to Starbucks post-graduation. Once the working world hit, coffee became a mini-escape, even just five minutes to run downstairs and grab a drink. It is now a moment to catch up with a work friend as we shuffle through the perpetual line and then wait a minute for our drinks to be ready. It gives me a caffeine-fueled clarity as I tackle my to-do list. (Seriously, the employees recognize me at the Starbucks in my office building now. My tip for saving money on these expensive almost-daily treats: I ask for gift cards every holiday, use some of my credit card reward points to receive more gift cards, and register all of the cards so I can get free drink postcards after every several visits.)

It's a wonderful time of year when the red cups return!

On the weekends, coffee provides a moment of relaxation and comfort, as I navigate the aisles of the grocery store, write blog posts and short stories on my laptop, page through magazines and books, or catch up with a friend post-yoga class. With a splash of Bailey's, it's an early-morning college-football-tailgate beverage or an after-dinner treat (just don't laugh so hard while sipping that it goes up your nose... my sisters are hilarious and this was the unfortunate, albeit memorable, result during one holiday dinner). Coffee is always brewing in the morning at my parents' home in Kansas or at Scott's parents' house in the suburbs. Both our moms appreciate a good caffeinated cup of brew, so it's a little source of bonding time in the kitchen as I curl up in my pajama pants on a barstool and we chat about what's in the newspaper that day.

We have a coffeemaker now, a wonderful wedding shower gift from my family, but it's really just for me. Coffee is one of those areas of difference for Scott and me. He has never had a cup in his life, but he is kind enough to recognize my love for it (addiction is a strong word) and knows it is a good idea for everyone involved that I get a little bit of coffee most days.

I'll leave you with some cheery news: Today and tomorrow from 2-5 pm, Starbucks is offering buy-one, get-one-free holiday drinks.  So grab a friend and get into the holiday spirit with a cozy, caffeinated cup!

(Birthday gift card in hand, I stopped into Starbucks yesterday and noticed that they now have polar-bear iced sugar cookies - reminds me of my dad who loves polar bears... Also, as I was waiting in line behind a woman who had the hiccups, I overheard the Starbucks employee recommend that she drink a glass of water while her friend plugged her ears. The whole store was soon glancing over at the ridiculous attempt to cure hiccups, but guess what, it worked!)


  1. Yay for coffee! We have the same coffee maker. And just bought Amaretto flavored coffee from The Coffee and Tea Exchange today. Did you know that they can custom blend flavors for you from what's in stock?

  2. Thanks for the tip! I'll have to check that out!


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