How I came to love coffee

My love is a love shared with many others — coffee.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, home of Starbucks. Around 1994, when I was coming of age and learning to drive (damn, am I THAT old? I am!), Starbucks was creating it’s second wave of franchises. Coffee creations, for the first time, became HUGE in the region. You defined yourself by what you drank, how many modifiers were applied to it, your mug — the whole thang. Cool people worked as baristas in Starbucks. (I secretly wanted to. Still do, actually.)

I didn’t like coffee. But someone convinced me to try a cafe mocha. And it was good. Oh, so good. Soon, I had the Starbucks on all my major routes identified. I remember the Starbucks I always stopped at on my way to orchestra rehearsal on sunny Saturday mornings — listening to Car Talk and delighted to be up early to play Sibelius. There was the Starbucks near the Tacoma Mall, great for when one was running errands. There’s the South Hill Starbucks (next to where the Safeway used to be), great for when I was going to a theater event with my godfather. There was the Enumclaw Starbucks — sustenance when going to visit my grandparents. Often the first and last coffee after backpacking.

Having dived into the world of caffeinated beverages for the first time, I started drinking brewed coffee with my Dad. Since I took up the habit, I’ve usually had 2 16 ounce Starbucks mugs of coffee a day. One poured fresh, and one in a thermos. I used to keep my coffee in a stainless steel mug in my locker during first period Math because Mr. Johnson wouldn’t let me drink it in class. It was still pretty warm by English time.

When I left for college, coffee became a tangible connection to HOME. Starbucks was still rare on the East Coast, and I would go way out of my way for a mocha. A friend’s dad once drove me 20 minutes one morning to get one. He doesn’t remember, but I do. My parents would meet me at the gate with a mocha.

Unfortunately, I can’t handle mochas anymore. They hurt my stomach. I still drink 32 or so ounces of coffee a day, and it still says home and security for me. (It also says headache and exhaustion if I don’t have it.)

Coffee is a comfort food — happily I take it black so it’s a 0 calorie comfort food. It’s a joy to me. And it helps make mornings bearable for me.

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