I Love Coffee

“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?

29 thoughts on “I Love Coffee”

  1. I, too, LOVE coffee. Apart from the actual physical dependence, there’s the taste of it and the ritual of it. It really just makes me incredibly happy to start a slow Saturday morning with a home brewed cup, or sip an iced coffee from a coffeeshop while walking around. My favorite ways to have coffee are:

    1. homebrewed, strong, with sweet n’ low (my sweetener of choice; my mom used it when I was growing up, so…) and half n’ half, or a flavored creamer (lately, I’m loving the chicory coffee I brought back from a trip to New Orleans, and I’m also a huge fan of Kona).
    2. at Dunkin Donuts with sweet n’ low and cream (my usual morning pick-me up)
    3. iced coffee from Starbucks with sweet n’ low and a splash of half n’ half (the only other iced coffee I like as much as theirs is Borders, which is a French Roast and has an almost chocolatey flavor to it).
    4. If I’m craving coffee at night, I’ll brew a pot of decaf at home as an after-dinner treat. Although the caffeine never used to affect my sleep, I’ve become a more finicky sleeper and can’t have regular coffee at night anymore.
    5. The occasional frou frou specialty drink (faves include mocha cocounut fraps and soy toffeenut lattes).

  2. My coworker made our 530am coffee fantastically strong today and we had an interesting conversation about the economics of relationships and rap song lyrics that prove our points. #highoncoffee

    Cream and sugar for me and vanilla lattes are my treat. Iced coffee with 2 pumps of vanilla and half half is another favorite on warm days.

  3. I drink my daily coffee black. I have a coffee maker in my office and as a treat once in a while I’ll use a flavored creamer (my favorite is Italian Sweet Cream, which is by that brand that makes half the flavored creamers, not the brand that makes the other half–you know, the ones with the rounder, red tops… anyway) or a non-cream flavor. I have a couple of those flavors from Cost Plus and they’re fun for a day when I want something different.

    At Sbucks I have a wide variety of drinks I enjoy, and I try to order the fanciest things I can because with my gold card I get flavors and soy and extra shots for free, so I try to get the most value for my money and also to differentiate my special Sbucks trips from the regular coffee I make at home.

    Also everything about coffee is the worst because my boyfriend had to give it up because of his digestion and my roommate who shares my adoration of morning (and midday, and evening) coffee is moving this summer. We also make espresso together, sometimes to put in our coffee and other times to drink in my adorable little espresso cups. I don’t know what I’ll do if my new roommate doesn’t like coffee/espresso like we do. (And I genuinely like it–at my parents’ house we drink only decaf, and I’ll drink EVEN MORE of it because I can drink it all evening without staying up late on accident.)

    I have so many coffee thoughts it’s embarrassing.

  4. Also, those of you that use a french press: are there any special tricks you use to brew the perfect cup of coffee, in terms of water temperature, etc.? A lot of enthusiasts seem to have it down to an exact science, so I am, despite my mad skillz with a stovetop Bialetti, a bit intimidated!

    1. I have the large-ish press (6 cups? I don’t know. It’s insulated and doesn’t have markings.), and I use about three tablespoons of ground coffee, boiling water, and let it steep for about 10-15 minutes. I actually kind of like a little bit of coffee ground sediment, so I use a medium-coarse ground (I grind my own beans), so a bit gets through. I just started messing around with the press when I got my first one, and I never really had a bad cup of coffee from it, just a few weak ones.

  5. I am a total coffee addict, and while I can brew from home almost exactly any espresso drink I order from the barristas who know me by name, I always end up at Starbucks. I am lazy. I have a gold card. It’s bad. I have gone from a triple grande soy white mocha (too sweet) to a triple grande soy cappuccino and most recently to grande soy cafe misto (cheaper AND more caffeine! Bonus!). Sometimes, a frappuccino as a rare treat. However, the times they are a changing, so just tonight, I bought my very first programmable coffee maker. I am going to learn how to drink an free and unadulterated (er, soy cream and two sugars) cup o’ joe in the morning, I swear.

    Starbucks will remain a special treat. Maybe for days with a lot of meetings. Sigh.

  6. I drink my coffee black. Lots of it. I don’t drink milk so if I get a latte I have it with soy. This is rare.

    Embarrassing coffee story. I was in Spain last week and the waiter asked if I wanted coffee. Then, he asked if I wanted “American or Spanish Coffee”. I was trying to be not so American, and ordered the Spanish coffee. I had no idea what it was – but I was adventurous. Then he asked me which liquor I wanted in it (I think the choices were brandy and something else). I don’t drink liquor so I said, umm, none? He laughed at me, and brought me what was probably the American coffee. It was amazing, espresso with a side of American embarrassment.

  7. I have three different methods of coffee brewing at my house: regular drip, french press and stove top (a moka pot). I usually drink it black and strong, but I’ll occasionally add a splash of almond/soy milk. I come from a family of strong, black coffee drinkers. My 86 year old grandma still drinks a whole pot of black coffee every morning!

  8. I got used to drinking it black when I travelled a lot for work, and you get used to work-site and cheap motel coffee and can’t count on there being anything to go with. But I also always preferred to get milk when working, just to cool it down enough that it could be drunk comfortably in the 10-15 minute sanctioned coffee break.

    Now I will drink coffee black (which in NYC you have to specify is “black no sugar”), sometimes only half and half and sometimes milk one sugar. It depends on my mood. The comment on people knowing how you drink your coffee up there rings true – people take it seriously. Where I work now, its common to bring coffee in for the coworkers you are relieving, or bring some for everyone if you are the one lucky enough to get off the labor floor for a deli run in the middle of the night. If someone shows up with coffee, I drink it any which way. My junior coworkers sometimes take pride in remembering how people take their coffee and tea – the little things that make you feel like you know people and can get one small thing right. One early Sunday morning, the incoming resident picked me up a coffee, and came in saying “I got this with milk and sugar, that’s how you take it, right”, and another person corrected her saying “no, she usually drinks black coffee”. I actually think there were some mildly hurt feelings that I take my coffee differently from different people. Really, I’m just a coffee slut and don’t care about the details at 6am after a 24hour shift.

  9. I’m pretty easy to please and will usually just take my coffee black unless it is really acidic. For some reason, I had a hard time convincing my caffeine-averse boyfriend that I liked just plain old coffee, he thought I just asked for it black from his parents because I was too shy to ask for sugar :) But I’m not too picky about my coffee/espresso, my two best friends in college worked at Sbux so I would let them make me whatever they wanted when I would visit them. One concoction resulted in a sleepless night due to caffeine jitters, so I had to put a limit on the espresso shots allowed per drink after that!

      1. For me at least, it was defintely something I had to work up to. When I was a freshman in college I could barely take the coffee taste in frappuccinos (pathetic, I know)! By the time I had graduated and was working at my 1st real job, I needed my coffee black :)

  10. I’m not a big fan of brewed coffee at home, though over the years my husband, being the habitual drinker he is, has managed to turn me to the dark side. He brews at least 2-3 pots daily, and drinks coffee all day long (he has some severe caffeine addictions). I drink it black with tons of sugar, or either with just a splash of cream. I prefer half and half, but he buys flavored creamers, which I’ll begrudgingly use.

    I prefer coffee from our local coffeeshop, Jittery Joe’s. I’m partial to caramello’s and white mocha’s and the very best, the honeysuckle latte. *sigh*

  11. I began my coffee love affair on a cruise in Southern Europe. My cousin and I would order pots of coffee at 2am because it was just so good. Those 2 weeks were the most caffienated I’ve ever been (and I love Red Bull). Every place we went we would get different kinds of coffee just to see what it tasted like. 5 years later, I still don’t have a preference for how my coffee is done. Black, cream and/or sugar, hot, cold, espresso, americano, starbucks, dunkin donuts, hipster coffee shop. JUST GIVE IT TO ME.

    Also, my Myma has been drinking her coffee hot and black for 70 years and she says that’s what keeps her young.

  12. I inherited the coffee addiction from my Dad, but it really started when I was a CIT at summer camp. I take a double-double ( 2 sugar, 2 milk) preferable from Tim Horton’s ( the best cheap coffee evarrr) or French roast. I can’t make a decent cup myself yet so I either buy it or suffer my horrible horrible fate.

  13. I love coffee so much. I’m a fairly recent convert, I avoided it until grad school, and then it was all over. And I like it beige. I try to only have one or two cups, sometimes it’s hard not to keep going to the coffee pot. I have a single cupper, it’s way too easy to have one more. Now I want a cup….

  14. About an inch of milk, please. I was just in London for a week and almost died because of the lack of coffee. The house I was staying in had none. And an Americano is not the same as a good cup of drip. That said, since I was out and about sightseeing and shopping for most of my days, the lack of ready bathroom facilities made me thankful that my three cups of morning coffee weren’t sitting on my bladder.

  15. I started drinking coffee when I was about ten (my dad is a coffee drinker and there was that one summer at camp with the unattended giant percolator in the dining hall). Before anyone clutches their pearls, I’m six feet tall, so I can only wish it had stunted my growth. I am, however, addicted.

    I use French or espresso roast beans, freshly (or freshly-ish) ground, made in an insulated French press. I like my coffee very hot and strong enough to stand a spoon up in. I add half and half until it’s about the color of my skin, and about a tablespoon of sugar. Real, actual sugar.

    When I drink iced coffee, I cold-brew it (cuts down on the acidity) and use coffee ice cubes, simple syrup, and milk or half and half. My houseguests will never want for caffeine, but I did have to beg my mother to keep coffee on hand for when I visit her because there’s NO coffee in her town (except a fairly new Dunkin’ Donuts, and don’t even get me started). Because she loves me, she bought a cheap drip coffeemaker, filters, and decent coffee that she stores in the freezer (not the best method, but sure as hell better than no caffeine).

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