Coffee TalkMonday, September 29, 2014
I didn't always love coffee. My first memory of coffee is my parents drinking foul-smelling instant coffee every morning with breakfast, each of them out of their special mugs, Mom's with milk, Dad's with milk and sugar. Long after Dad has gone off to work for the day, my mother would have a second coffee mid-morning and I'd marvel at how she seemed to enjoy something that smelled so disgusting.
Throughout high school I avoided drinking coffee, but I learned how to make it working at McDonald's. I still couldn't get over how many customers would order not just one cup, but drain it and then turn around and get a free refill - sometimes more than one! HOW are they drinking this shit? I'd think, doling out sugar packets. The closest I'd come to drinking coffee myself was a Tim Horton's French Vanilla cappuccino, which I now realize is as close to coffee as french fries are to vegetables - only the most distant of relatives.
In college I had many vices, but coffee wasn't one of them. I graduated and started a "real" job, and while my coworkers clamoured for the coffee machine in the office kitchen, I happily stuck with pastries and donuts and the occasional hot chocolate. It wasn't until my mid-20s, when I moved to Halifax and started showing up at work more than a little hungover and on very little sleep on a fairly regular basis, that I developed a tolerance for coffee, and even then it was something I choked down in an effort to fuel myself through the day. I remember a job interview that took place at a coffee shop. My interviewer got an Americano and I ordered some sort of a peppermint mocha concoction piled high with whipped cream, which I then proceeded to eat with a spoon during my interview. (I also got the job - don't ask how).
I went on a work trip to Toronto and when waiting at Pearson for my return flight, I wandered up to a Starbucks counter. It happened to be fall, so the pumpkin spice signage was everywhere, even though it was much less of a thing then. The pictures looked pretty good, so I ordered one.
That was the moment when I started to really enjoy coffee. It was probably the first "good" coffee of my life, and sitting in the airport, sipping from the white Starbucks cup, clutching my laptop bag, watching people scurrying around looking busy and important, was one of those first moments every 20-something has when you start feeling like a legit grownup. I was traveling, alone, for work. I had a Starbucks. I had navigated airport security by myself. I had attended a national meeting on behalf of my company. I, too, was busy and important, and that drink in my hand made me feel even more so. I went home, scoped out the local Starbucks, and started going there at least once a week for a latte, and it became my favourite way to treat myself.
Thankfully for my wallet, I learned how to make coffee at home, and now that's how I start every morning, a coffee with cream. Occasionally I'll grab a mid-morning cup as well, but for the most part one a day does the trick. I'm not a coffee snob - I'll drink McCafe, Starbucks, Second Cup. I don't need fancy flavouring or milks, just a splash of regular old cream will do the trick. I like meeting friends for coffee and gossip, bringing to-go mugs to the park with Pete and Eli in the fall when we're crunching through leaves, spiking coffee with Bailey's at Christmas time, or curling up on the couch with a cup and a magazine on a chilly Sunday morning. On our honeymoon in Paris I drank tons of cafe au lait, which just tastes better enjoyed on a little table on the sidewalk.
Happy International Coffee Day, coffee lovers! What's your favourite way to enjoy coffee?
|one of my favourite coffee breaks ever in Paris|