I grew up in a coffee house. Not like, a Starbucks. I mean, I grew up in a house full of people who would program the coffee maker to be brewing coffee before they rolled out of bed, because they were incapable of functioning without it. If this were cocaine, we’d all say they had a problem, but given that it was coffee, the addiction was a-ok by society’s standards. I grew up knowing that coffee was something that was as essential to the proper functioning of an adult as oil was to Oz’s tin man. I understood this, but still thought coffee was pretty gross.
This changed when I was around fourteen and had just met a girl named Jen. She was a tiny bit older than me, bleached her hair and wore makeup. She showed me how to make cat eyes with eyeliner, how to kiss, and how to drink coffee. I will always remember that day my freshman year of high school. We were standing in my kitchen, and in an attempt at politeness, my mother offered Jen a coffee. She accepted, and proceeded to dump pounds of sugar and cream in it. “Do you want a sip?” she asked. I tried it. Hey, coffee wasn’t bad when it composed only about a third of the beverage, the sugar and cream making up the rest!
This wasn’t the beginning of the coffee obsession, though. That came much later. I was in my late twenties and had just broken up with my husband. In a bid for independence, I got a job (my first in years) as a waitress in a diner. It didn’t pay well, obviously, and the tips were pretty bad, too, but we were allowed to eat one hot meal a shift and as much soup, salad and dessert as we wanted. This was really important in those days, as while I still lived with my ex, he had stopped providing food for me months before. The coffee was free at the diner too, and I drank it with abandon: hot coffee in the colder months and iced coffee when it was hot out. I would drink coffee throughout my whole shifts. My new group of friends encouraged my coffee addiction as well, as one of their favorite things to do was to sit at Barnes and Noble, Dunkin Donuts or any number of local coffee shops, drink coffee and talk for hours. Coffee became an inextricable part of my daily life.