Learning To Like Coffee

“It’s an acquired taste,” people say which is why there was a process I had to go through to in learning to like coffee. It didn’t come easily, and it didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen – for which I’m now glad.

Probably much like many of you, I grew up with parents who drank coffee. Every. Single. Day. Its aroma permeated the house each morning, often waking me up in and of itself. Over time, I suppose that I grew to like the smell of coffee because it reminded me of home. It was the welcome to each new day, it was part of our family Christmas celebration on the farm, and it meant that friends and family were near. But enjoy the taste of brewed coffee? Now that’s a different story entirely.

I know there were times as teenagers, working excess hours at summer camp, that us kids drank coffee. Realistically, we drank cups of sugar and cream with just a splash of coffee. I wish I could say that we needed this charge to get back to work, which (technically) we did. But, that wasn’t necessarily because we were working too hard. It was more so a combination deal of working many hours and not sleeping nearly enough. Staying up late to play practical jokes on co-workers (or the campers!) or going skinny dipping in the moonlight often took precedence over getting some good rest. So we drank coffee. We just didn’t like it.

My first year of college may have been a similar story. I got good grades, so I guess I studied enough. I stayed in a dorm in Saskatchewan, and outside of attending hockey games and chilling wine coolers in our windows, there weren’t a ton of exciting extracurricular opportunities. Certainly not at -40 degrees.

We managed to goof off enough to drag our butts to class only slightly late most days. With bed head. In our pajamas. Those were the days!

My roommate there, Beth Ann, was a classy gal from Portland, OR, who brought her French Press with her and would often fuss over her coffee making process. I’d laugh, microwaving my Mac ‘n’ Cheese (my study snack of choice, to go with my warm Diet Coke). I never had to ask Beth Ann: “Do you like coffee?” because the answer was painfully obvious. Sure I mocked her at the time. I just didn’t know that this woman was soon to implement some serious changes in my life.

Rochelle, a girl who lived next door, fussed over her coffee as well. As opposed to my roommate’s Starbucks deliveries from home, this Canadian farm kid’s coffee beans consisted of a chocolate raspberry concoction from the bulk bin at Super Store (to the best of my recollection).

Being a small-town Midwestern kid myself, it made no difference to me. When we had snuck out of the dorm in the middle of the night to go visit the boys (I mean go get some doughnuts), caffeine was caffeine. Rochelle gave me a sample of her weak, flavored concoction one morning. That was the turning point for me.

Like many addicts, I started with one free sample. It wasn’t long before I’d scramble into my seat in the back of the classroom, just as the lecture began, and on my desk there would be a steaming mug waiting for me. Bless her heart – I have no idea how much I still owe Rochelle for all she shared.

Somehow after that year in Saskatchewan, I ended up in Portland. Though I didn’t necessarily like coffee, I had gotten used to the stuff Rochelle made. Apparently that was not acceptable in Oregon. Flavored lattes, sure, but not flavored coffee, I guess. Definitely not anything that didn’t come from Starbucks.

So, my friends there took it upon themselves to help me learn to like coffee, like – really like it. We started with iced mochas. I didn’t necessarily care for those. “It’s too strong!” and it would get handed off to someone else.

Then we switched to iced mochas with double the chocolate. That was better. And, it was a good thing that those were during the days when I actually attended step aerobics classes.

During my few months of hanging out on the West Coast, my taste buds were awakened. I graduated from Rochelle’s chocolate raspberry stuff, to double chocolate iced mochas, to black coffee. Yah!

Many moons later, and back in the Midwest, I typically take my coffee with cream (no sugar!), though I think it’s in effort to drink it faster without burning myself, more than its being “too strong” without. Sometimes I pull a few shots of espresso over ice. Occasionally, I’ll splurge on a Thai iced coffee. My body can’t seem to handle the regular (no pun intended) caffeine/sugar combination charge of mochas anymore.

Point being, it doesn’t really matter how I take my coffee now. It doesn’t necessarily matter how you take yours. The point is that somehow, now I like it!

So, now when I stay up too late goofing off (because some things never change) my morning cups (definitely plural!) of coffee are no longer a sacrifice – they are the very things that make my late-night enjoyment bearable.

I’m now the one responsible for making coffee for family gatherings, whether or not they take place on the farm. The coffee’s just brewed a little bit stronger than it was when I was younger.

As for friends, there’s virtually always coffee involved when they’re near. I make coffee and scones when I invite them to my place. They brew coffee when I go to theirs. And if we go out – at least nine times out of ten it’s to a coffee shop.

Again, some things never change. Luckily for me, the one thing that did change, though through a series of events over the course of time, is that I did go learning to like coffee.

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