On coffee

On coffee.

I never used to drink it. Now I do. By the gallon.

Coffee. It’s a “get used to” taste, like beer or smelly cheese. But it’s a warm comforting liquid, and it’s important to my life. Just one year ago, though, it was so completely off the radar that I never would have thought about ordering a cup.

Then something happened: mornings. More specifically, a switch in my schedule that required me to be at work at 7 AM. I now had a reason for wanting a caffeinated brew, and I finally had the time to make it.

It wasn’t that I had never been awake during the morning. It’s just that I had gone through life working jobs that required one of two things from me: late nights or very early mornings. I didn’t need coffee for the late night. And the early morning led to a bleary eyed trance that was not conducive to pouring hot liquids into a small cup.

So for the first twenty-six years of my life, I went without. And now, it’s as if I’m frantically trying to catch up. I feel deficient. Out of practice. A novice.

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s partly about looks. There’s an image to being a coffee drinker that seems very romantic to me. I not only like the taste – the wonderful, slightly burnt smell of brewing coffee; the smoky aftertaste; the warmth, weight and body – but I like the way I feel, like a serious writer. I could drink gin, like Hemingway. I could use various types of drugs, like Thompson. Instead, I drink coffee.

A lot of it, actually. I have a completist personality – I want the entire set, the entire experience, the entire scope of being. So it’s only natural for me to make a pot of coffee at 8 PM, pour it into a little thermos, and head to the computer to make blog updates, or write book articles, or do whatever it is I end up doing as time wastes away on the Internet. It all seems so natural to me, actually, as if I was supposed to be a coffee drinker right out of the womb.

Maybe I was. My parents were both coffee hounds, as were my grandparents. It’s not uncommon – in fact, it’s the norm – to wake up at my grandmother’s house at 6 AM with a steaming pot of coffee waiting. Usually, it’s about 10 before we finally break away from the morning conversation, ready to finally start our day – showers, clothes, and a brisk walk outside in the wintry cold.

I’m proud to embrace the coffee monster. No more of that fluffy chocolate mocha frappa-lappa blah blah. Just black, thanks.

And extra jitters, while you’re at it.

This was lovingly handwritten on January 3rd, 2007