Coffee makes my life better
Happy National Coffee Day (Sept. 29)! I’m not really sure who or what association has dubbed it thus, but I don’t need a whole lot of convincing to give over a whole day of celebration to my beverage of choice.
Most of my readers are aware of my obsession with coffee and my lifelong dream to one day own a café. What I’ve been thinking about lately is why I love coffee so much. There are a lot of reasons, but when you get down to the core of it, coffee has plain made my life better. I’m not even being melodramatic. Allow me to explain.
It was hard growing up in my house. I love both my folks to death, but when I was in high school my dad was addicted. My mom worked later than he did, so that meant that when I came straight home from school, it was just he and I. I was never afraid of my dad, but it wasn’t always pleasant to be around him without a buffer, like my mom. I got a car my junior year of high school and a weekend job. I no longer had to be at home right after school.
Enter the coffee house.
There is one place where a high school kid can go and remain for hours on end for only a few bucks. I found solace in cafés. All I needed was enough to buy an Americano and a bagel. I would sit for hours immersed in homework, SAT prep and whatever Truman Capote or Heidegger book I was reading at the time. I didn’t have to go home. I didn’t have to face uncertainty. Over time, everyone knew me, and they were happy to see me. They knew what I would order. Baristas became my friends and the hours I spent there stretched out. I belonged.
I truly believe that’s one reason I feel so at home in cafés and coffee shops. No matter what city or country I’m in, the local coffee shop welcomes me. It is familiar and it is safe and it is in my soul. I’m pretty sure that’s also why I want to open my own café. I love the idea of providing a haven that was so generously given to me.
The other way coffee has genuinely made my life better is the way it brings me into the present. I have a hard time staying in the moment. I don’t think that’s unique to me; I imagine a lot of people have trouble with it. Otherwise, Zen Buddhism wouldn’t exist, right?
Coffee is to me what wine is to oenophiles. I can tell you what the best origins are, what the acidity level is and how it affects the flavor, and my favorite extraction method. I drink it black so I can taste the different notes of the bean – bright, fruity, nutty, robust, bold, etc. I like to add flavors that play up those notes. My favorite is a soy almond latte. The almond and soy bring out the nutty quality of the espresso. Or adding cinnamon to an Americano. It brings out the spice.
My point is that when I’m paying attention to the flavors, my senses are sharpened. I take in everything around me – the air, the light, what’s going on in my life, my surroundings, how I feel. For example, this past Christmas was my first sober Christmas. And it was the first time I was spending it away from my immediate family or a boyfriend’s family. I woke up that morning alone in my apartment with my little Christmas tree, brewed some coffee and took my mug to the stairs outside my door. As I sipped, I let the moment set in. The air was crisp and cool. I was sober; I was employed, and I was single and happy. I knew I might never be there again – alone on Christmas, that is. And I savored it as I drank my coffee.
As silly as it sounds, coffee is a part of my soul for these reasons. I’ve stopped at different points in my life, but I always come back to it because it comforts me and it feels right. Besides, I was told caffeine was the only drug I could do in sobriety. Har har.
Anybody else got some good coffee stories?