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So, let’s talk about coffee today, or, as I like to call it, the Elixir of Life. I mean who doesn’t want to get up in the morning to a hot cup of coffee with its side of cream or sugar? Or, for you diehards, drinking it just as it came out of the pot, which is as dark as the black void of space.
There’s a reason that Starbucks, Peets, Coffee Bean and so many others have made millions of dollars from coffee and coffee drinks. I believe our love of coffee is fueled by both caffeine and memories.
I came from an English household where tea was the drink of choice, but strangely enough, as kids we weren’t introduced to drinking tea. That was for adults. Tea has sort of a tepid, watery smell with a mild, smooth flavor that doesn’t quite captivate in the same way as that first scent or taste of coffee.
I liked the smell of coffee before I actually tasted it when I was 18 in my first year at university. Yes, I was 18 years old before I ever had a cup of coffee. Unbelievable as that may sound. Starbucks hadn’t become the worldwide sensation at that time. The only places to get coffee back then where I lived in Southern California were on campus coffee shops and a place called Hudson’s that served chocolate chips and real cream on the side of its coffee. There wasn’t much in between.
It was only a few years later that the first Starbucks locations began to spring up like mushrooms everywhere and I saw my first Peets Coffee cart in San Francisco. Both had long lines, as well as frustrated coffee aficionados whose patience with newbies to the world of flavored and specialty coffee was short to say the least.
The first time I got coffee from a Peets Coffee cart in San Francisco was near the Financial District. I was standing in a long line behind a very cool looking young woman with a beautiful black leather motorcycle jacket and air about her that said she probably worked for one of the designers in the city. But, it was her coffee order that got my attention. A regular cup of black coffee with six, yes I said six, shots of espresso. As she walked off into the cool misty morning sipping her coffee, I wondered how her head wasn’t going to explode in less than half an hour.
At that time the choices of coffee and coffee drinks expanded exponentially. We learned that you could put at least three shots of expresso into drinks without our heads exploding, but, that could leave you feeling jittery. We also learned we could make espresso from home if we got the right machines. Although I looked espresso in coffee drinks, I wasn’t so keen on it by itself and my first attempt at making it at home with a Bialetti – Moka Express is a tale best left for another time. But, I did love to buy raspberry flavored coffee from Cost Plus/World Market and did not like to spend mor than a few minutes irritating people in line at Starbucks as I tried to figure out what the difference between, low, skim and whole milk would mean to the flavor of my coffee.
Nowadays, I, like other coffee lovers have variety of coffee making machines from a regular drip coffee maker, to a Keurig to a Nespresso machine, which I use on occasion mostly when people come over and I want them to have a coffee treat.
What I find most interesting though about my coffee journey, and all its twists and turns, is that I have now gone back to the very first memory I have of someone actually making coffee. That was when I was reading Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. In one of the first scenes in the book Meg put a mug of half water and half milk into the microwave, heated it up for a couple of minutes then put in just the right amount of instant coffee crystals making the perfect café au lait.
It’s funny how sometimes we go back to the beginning to enjoy the future.