Dear Non-coffee Drinker,
I used to be just exactly like you. I used to say, “I don’t drink coffee” with some mixture of pride and humiliation. Proud that I had not succumbed to the drink of millions and was forging my own way - perhaps making the choice for “health reasons”. Humiliated that I wasn’t really fitting in with the ranks of other “adults” and looked strangely naive with under-developed tastes.
I suppose it all started when I was a freshman in high school. We lived 45 minutes away from my high school. In the winter, the drives were long and often started out very cold. Occasionally, our carpool group would stop at a gas station and I'd buy the dirt-cheap sugar-loaded cappuccino. I always chose french vanilla and filled the largest cup I thought I could drink in the span of our drive. I’d sit in the car, zipping past frozen fields that defied the evident lack of snow, and burn my tongue as I tried to sip the thick syrupy goodness. Of course, it would get to just the right temperature to actually drink enjoyably and comfortably when we were only minutes from school. Since it was against the rules to drink in class, and storing the beverage in my locker had proven either very disappointing or extremely messy, I would sit there and chug all 35 remaining ounces as we pulled into the parking lot. This introduced me to the effects of caffeine on an empty stomach. But it also introduced me to the flavor of coffee. Sure, cappuccino is much richer and thicker and loaded with sugar than regular coffee. But the coffee flavor is there underneath all the calories and carbohydrates. I didn’t get hooked, necessarily, right away. But the taste for coffee became increasingly familiar. Part of me still fondly remembers the way my tongue would tingle for the rest of the day - the aftereffects of searing my tastebuds on an impatient slurp.
I managed to make it all the way through college without indulging in, much more becoming addicted to, actual “real” coffee. I made my first visit to a real honest-to-goodness coffee shop and sampled my first sort-of-coffee-but-not-cappuccino beverage. It was good. As I sat there and stared my mocha, I knew I was in some amount of trouble. But trouble is avoidable when you are poor college student. You can only get in as much trouble as your wallet will allow, so mochas were deemed less necessary than new jeans, pizza dinners and phone calls home.
I registered for a coffee pot when Brian and I got married. My mom told me I had to. I shrugged and clicked the trigger on the registry scanner thing at Target. I didn’t really care, but she said I had to at least ask for one so she could have coffee when she came to visit. We did, indeed, receive the coffee maker as a wedding gift. I even took it out of the box...and stashed it away in a cabinet.
I’m not sure exactly what happened, when or where or why, but slowly, surely, coffee infiltrated my life. It was readily available every day at work. I had a Bible study at a coffee shop several times a month. A few of my friends were Canadians. Many friends that were not Canadian drank coffee anyway. I bought cappuccino mixes to make my own specially flavored selections when it called to me - more and more frequently. We got a free bag of coffee grounds from a local store and I felt guilty about never using it. So, one day, I opened it, read directions on my coffee maker, and brewed my first cup. And never really stopped.
I must admit, I know absolutely nothing about making a good cup of coffee. I am sure I don’t make it correctly - but I only make it for myself so it doesn’t really seem to matter. I haven’t learned to drink it black yet, though that is something I would love to be able to do. I dump more sugar in each cup than my dentist would recommend. I also take it with cream. Yeah, I’m not a very sophisticated coffee drinker.
But every morning when I get to work, I have a cup. Every morning on my days off, I make my own. When we were at the Lake, I found great joy in having a cup early in the morning out on the deck. On days when I don’t get coffee, I miss it terribly. Not so much physically as, dare I say, emotionally.
When we were at my parent’s house for the 4th of July, my mom made coffee in the morning, just as she has for years, for herself and my dad. I strolled over to the cupboard, selected a mug, poured it full, doctored it up, and drank it. And I sat there thinking of how very funny it felt. Like I was this little kid invited to sit at the adult table for Thanksgiving. Look at me, finally all grown up.
I understand, you who don’t drink coffee, that you say you don’t like the flavor or the consistency or want to avoid the caffeine (I, myself, drink only decaf). I understand you have your reasons for not drinking coffee. I do. Because I had reasons once, too. But I must tell you, every day I look forward to my cup of coffee. It actually gets me out of bed - just the mere thought of it. If the day holds no further promise for fun or excitement aside from that one cup of steamy dark goodness, I cling to it with both hands. And I don’t remember really what it was like to not have that enjoyment each day - to not have that warm liquid reminding me that when all is wrong in my world, I can make one little thing right each day. And sometimes I feel like you are really missing out if you don’t have something like that in your life. Consider this your invitation to give coffee a chance. It just may warm your heart the way it does mine.
Your coffee-loving friend
P.S. If you hate the stuff, you don't have to leave me a comment telling me how horrid this post was. Similarly, I would hate to be lectured on the virtue of eating onions (which I will NOT eat - at least not knowingly), so I understand if you refuse. But just in case you're waiting for some coaxing and persuasion...well...I tried.