When I started college, my mother’s biggest concern was that I would start drinking coffee. I was raised in a tea household–I don’t recall a day going by growing up when my dad didn’t make a cup of tea. If the coffee pot was out, I assumed we were expecting guests (and I still do.) So when I went away to school, I was sent off with IKEA sheets, a garbage can I salvaged from a neighbor’s garage, and a giant collection of tea bags and mugs. My roommates and I would heat up water in the microwave then dunk in our tea of choice. I managed to break my freshman roommate Jude of her habit of dipping a tea bag into the hot water a couple times before pulling it out and calling the resulting mildly flavored hot water “tea”. Meanwhile, the British nation would be horrified by my general laziness in leaving my tea bag in my mug. Even now, as then, if you drop by, I’ll likely offer you a cup of tea–although now I possess my very own bright red teapot to help with the brewing. (Begone, microwave!)
One of my fondest memories from college was the closest I ever got to pulling an all-nighter. My roommate Liz and I were both taking an evening philosophy class we both weren’t too keen on–I because of the philosophy, she because of the evening. Certain philosophy classes have really interested me, but this one eluded me. The Philosophy of Human Nature remains a confusing myster. Before our midterm, starting at 6pm on Wednesday, Liz and I stayed up until almost 2am on Tuesday, quizzing eachother on St. Anselm and proofs and Spock and the mysteries of the universe, setting them to memory through a series of dance moves, jokes, and sign language. (Coincidentally, at the same time were both teaching ourselves ASL.) This night of madness was fueled by copious amounts of tea, until we were both so delirious the mere mention of “reason” could send us into gales of laughter. The next evening, as we sat at adjacent desks writing our exams, our hands twitched from our caffeine intake as well as our dance move muscle memory, and I more than once caught myself snapping our drawing designs on the table to bring back the Lipton-induced mnemonics of the night before.
It was around this same time that my mother’s fears were realized and I discovered coffee.
The frozen coffees known as Javalanches sold at the campus coffee shop were my gateway drug, as Liz and I rewarded ourselves with them on our walk back from class sessions that didn’t end with either of us slumping over in confusion (me) or exhaustion/boredom (her.) The year before, I’d marathoned all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls in one semester, adopting Lorelai Gilmore as my new fictional guru in all things. However, it took an entire year for her love of coffee to rub off on me. And now, well, I love coffee. I do. I’m so sorry, Mom. It just smells really good, and it makes me feel all awesome In the words of Kenneth Parcell, “I love how it makes me feel. It’s like my heart is trying to hug my brain!” And really, Mom, I use whitening toothpaste, and I stopped growing when I was twelve, so your two favorite arguments about coffee are moo, in a cow’s opinion. Some days, my medication gives me a certain kind of headache that can only be cured by a caramel macchiato. But please don’t think I’ve deserted my old stand-by, tea. Tea and I are still going strong, judging by the fact that during my last cold I consumed an entire box of Peppermint Tea, and that a Chai latte remains one of my favorite beverages. But coffee–coffee is just the best. Meeting people for coffee is so great. Hanging out in coffee shops, talking to friends, inside, outside, at a table, on a couch–I love it. My friends and I have adopted a single location of a local coffee shop chain as our own, and if we’re meeting for coffee, it’s always the same place. I love that. I love having a place. Like Lorelai and Luke’s Diner–the best coffee is the coffee you know will be good.
But really, I’m not all that particular about coffee. Except that I am. The best iced caramel lattes come from Dunkin Donuts. I doctor my coffee with milk or raw sugar but rarely both. A Pumpkin Spice Latte will never cross my lips, but a Gingerbread latte might. The only bad coffee is burned coffee or decaf. If you’re bringing me coffee, bless you for thinking of me. I’ll bring the brew next time.