MORE THAN AN ASPECT OF IDENTITY

A cup of coffee on a table.

Coffee is a language, a love language, a universal language. Cafés provide a place, a setting—an environment in which to communicate.

I’ve decided to do the unthinkable. I’ve decided to cut back on my coffee consumption. Gasp! I’m not cutting it out of my life completely. That would be silly. Coffee makes everything more fun. I’m simply cutting back on the amount I consume. Instead of triple-shot lattes and/or double-shots of espresso in a can, I’ve settled on one cup of coffee per day. Hold me to it.

In my attempt to cut back, not cut out, I’ve been able to process and reflect a lot about how this precious commodity has impacted all of our lives. Even if the black stuff hasn’t touched your lips, it’s still a part of you. Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the world. It's been part of our history since the 15th century. It plays a key role in local and global economies. It makes your supervisor’s morning more bearable, which in turn makes your day better.

Coffee has become part of my identity. My past and present students know I’m obsessed. Former and current coworkers do too. My family accepts it. Friends adore it. It’s an aspect of who I am. A mug or Tumbler is part of every outfit. Accessories I rarely leave home without.

I started drinking coffee in college. I bought a $13 (USD) Mr. Coffee coffeemaker from Wal-Mart (don’t judge me) with tips I earned from working as a server at Bennigan’s. This was in Northern Iowa in 2004. I didn’t have many options. Since then we haven’t parted. Coffee and I are in love. Not even for a day have we separated. I’ve always found a way to have it—in some shape or form—even without easy access to it. That takes commitment.

Coffee is more than caffeine to me. It goes deeper than an energizing effect. Such fond memories are stirred into many cups I’ve had and shared.

I remember the first time I sipped a tall almond latte from Starbucks in Seattle.

I picture my Aunt Linda and Uncle David. How their house always smells of toffee or hazelnut.

When I think of Ingrid Odegard I smell it.

I remember circling a Starbucks kiosk in Shatin New Town Plaza, Hong Kong, waiting for it to open with Kristin. We were like vultures.

When I was so tired I could barely stand in Simpang Empat, Malaysia, iced instant coffee (with plenty of sugar) served in a plastic bag provided that extra push I needed.

My host-family in Guyana had a thermos of hot water, powdered milk and Nescafe waiting for me every morning.

My former manager at Ten Thousand Villages in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, loved sharing about her dream to open a coffee shop some day.

And nothing can beat a pot of Cowboy Coffee made over an open fire while camping.

Coffee is more than an aspect of identity. It’s a lifestyle. It's a universal language. It's a way of life. Even if you don’t like its bitter, full-bodied taste, coffee will always be a part of you. Café culture is everywhere. "Let’s meet for coffee" has become a normal expression for setting up any sort of social gathering.

I’ll never pass up an opportunity to "grab coffee" with someone. I've simply decided to cut back on the amount I consume. I want to be more intentional about ensuring coffee is something I'll always enjoy—and not out of necessity. Having one cup per day as opposed to many shots will help me put a value on every sip.

This is my way of making it official, of putting it out there for others to join.

2 comments :

  1. Nicole1:57 AM

    We are leading parallel lives! So interesting how coffee becomes a part of us. I am down to a large ½ decaf in the morning and that is it for the day. Next time we see each other, we will be drinking decaf! Well, maybe...

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    Replies
    1. Nicole. I think we'll always live parallel lives! And so glad to hear you've also cut back. We were a bit out of control there for a while. I think about you often, and miss you very much.

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