“How do you like your coffee?” Isn’t that one of the quintessential relationship questions? Once someone knows how to prepare a cup of coffee for you, they must really know you. It’s certainly true in my experience, as it was only after many sleepovers with then-boyfriend Mr. McDoogal that he really became an expert at the proper sugar and milk levels for me. But for coffee drinkers, the details of how they like their coffee are as much a part of their identity as any other important trait.
Drinking coffee isn’t always just about the caffeine addiction (although that is admittedly an enormous aspect of it); it’s also about the ritual. If you’re a coffee drinker, no morning is complete without your home-brewed cup (or two, or three”¦) or your coffee shop stop on the way to work. The fact that coffee is hot forces you to slow down to enjoy it, and for many of us, mornings just wouldn’t be the same without the couple moments to yourself that a cup of coffee allows.
Coffee-drinkers, like any other addicts, have a bond. And, like other addicts, we influence each other. For example, it wasn’t until I started working in an office every day that coffee became a daily necessity; before that, it had been an occasional treat or pick-me-up on long nights in college. In the following years, I watched as other fresh-faced grads that “weren’t really into coffee” became just as dependent as the rest of us. That’s because there’s a social aspect to coffee: at work, it’s a way for coworkers to gather casually in the morning to chat. In the wider world, meeting up for a cup of coffee is a nice date that’s a lot less formal or intimidating than a whole dinner.
Still, there are some perils of being a coffee lover in a sometimes coffee-indifferent world. There’s always that awkward moment for me in the morning when I’m staying over at a non-coffee-drinker’s house and realize there will be no coffee. I mean, not only is none going to be brewed; there isn’t even, say, an expired jar of Sanka in the pantry. My polite upbringing dictates that I don’t ask for something that the host and/or hostess clearly don’t have, but my soul screams out for the bean juice. I’ve gulped down some pretty terrible convenience store coffee in my day thanks to this terrible conundrum. I dread the day when my friends start moving out to the suburbs and I won’t even be able to walk somewhere to get my fix.
And of course, when I say “coffee,” I’m generally referring to drip brew. Americans strongly prefer drip coffee as opposed to the espresso favored in European countries such as Italy. In fact, did you know that the term “Caffe Americano” was originally kind of derogatory? This Italian term referred to the fact that during World War II, American soldiers in Europe couldn’t handle the strong espresso, so they had to have it watered down – literally. This is still mostly true; while you’ll find the occasional American who loves espresso by itself, more often we prefer to drink espresso-based drinks such as lattes, which have one shot of espresso and several ounces of steamed milk.
So, before I finish my afternoon cup of joe, I just thought I’d ask: How do you like your coffee?