Coffee is one of the best things in my life.
Does that sound extreme? Probably, but getting that vat of iced coffee in the summer time heat, a peppermint mocha when it’s cold and cozy, and early airport mornings with my mom where we both don’t speak until shots of espresso have been thrown back like tequila are some of those moments that stick with me in a way I can’t quite explain. It’s more than a caffeine addiction — which is no longer a funny speculation about my absurd coffee fixation — it’s officially a full-blown lifestyle. Where am I getting my next caffeine fix? Where is the nearest Starbucks? When do I have time tomorrow to get Coffee A, Coffee B, etc?
It all began when my grandma started me on Frappuccinos at about age 4, putting a grande blended beverage packed with sugar and topped with whipped cream (before dinner, wow!) into my tiny little hands to hopefully keep me satisfied and quiet as she pushed me in my stroller through the mall for hours. It worked.
I understood the deal immediately — If I stayed in the baby cage on wheels, I would be rewarded with something really tasty that had a fun green straw. Sold.
I don’t think my dear Grandma realized the caffeine content in a Frappuccino, however, and quickly, the monkey was on my back and I grew up asking my parents for sips of coffee, and then being allowed a mug of it at family breakfast on the weekends. Then at some point, it became a daily source of enjoyment, life-juice, and cultural interest to me. I never started going to Starbucks to be a cool teenager who *gasp* drank black coffee with a smug look of “maturity”, and I certainly did not expect accompanying my mom on latte runs once I entered college to become something I craved so much because it meant time with mom and a shared love of that first sip of coffee.
I attach so many memories to family holidays dotted with those damned red cups at Christmas as we pick out a tree, car rides with friends permanently interrupted by “CAN WE STOP FOR COFFEE,” and hours upon hours of cramming for finals with a line of empty mugs in front of me and the same playlist on a loop playing above my delirious head.
It’s more than the coffee itself — don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the actual taste of coffee and hand-pressed espresso shots, and the tiny cup of cafe au lait I had at Cafe du Monde with a beignet two weeks ago is permanently stamped into my mind and soul. And I will get a migraine if I don’t get caffeine into my system by 10 am, making me a cruel witch with no chill until I’ve slapped five dollars down for an icy-cool cold brew.
That’s the point though. People will look down their nose at me when they find out how much money I spend on coffee, saying if I saved it I could afford so many other things and pay for things that matter. That I should get a Keurig (I have one, it makes coffee taste like plastic, shocker), and my favorite: that I am a basic white girl. This one always stings little bit, even though people assume the blonde hair makes me fair game.
My question for everyone reading this is, what is your vice? Do you spend $10 on a beer at a Cubs game, or do you buy a handle of some god-awful alcohol on the weekend without even blinking? Do you go out to the bar with your friends for a few drinks after night class every week?
I’m not saying I don’t, but I’ll get one drink and make it last an hour while some go through four drinks before my coat is off. It’s all about what brings you joy and what you value in a beverage- some don’t even consider alcohol an expense because it’s just part of the weekly social scene, but that’s equally if not way more expensive when you crunch numbers. So why does a daily Starbucks or two iced coffees at brunch get the hairy eyeball?
Some need that beer at the end of a work day and that sparkly cocktail at the cute new bar downtown- to that I say cheers, and raise my iced-venti-hazelnut-latte-with-extra-ice to you. Whether I’m wandering the streets of a new city and that green, double-tailed mermaid icon waves out like a dear friend from home or I need to make the date last a little longer and order a french press with dessert, coffee has always had my back. And I’m done justifying it.