The Coffee Culture: How Fueling My Addiction Celebrates Community

I still remember fondly that day in the sixth grade when one of my teachers walked into the classroom carrying a sad looking plastic coffee mug gripped tightly in his right fist.

I remember being perplexed as to why he was gripping the mug so tightly, and I started to pay attention. During the entire class period he was never more than a foot or two away from his coffee mug. Then I watched my other teachers–most of them were the same. I thought smugly to myself, “I will never be one of those pathetic adults addicted to coffee. It doesn’t even taste good!”

Oh how wrong middle school Emilie was. About quite a few things, actually.

In high school I discovered the peppermint white chocolate blended mocha.

I giggle now to think of the millions  of calories I was consuming, not to mention the sugar! If I were to try that same drink today I would probably vomit from sugar-overdose. But some of us are born to our coffee addictions, others have to start slowly.

I tried a variety of other drinks before settling on my next favorite (as suggested to me by the adorable Salt Lake City Barista who found my indecision–and romper–irresistible): The Caramel Americano

I (and subsequently Y) drank this almost religiously for about a year.

You want to know something funny? Over the past month or so I have been thinking that the drink was no longer as satisfying as it had once been. It, too, had become too sweet. I was sick of caramel, and my favorite barista at The Greenest Bean was gone and her replacement could not live up to that title.

So, I am now embarking on a new journey. Y ordered a caramel iced coffee the other day, so I decided to try a non-caramel iced coffee. The barista put some sweetener in it–too sweet!

So today I tried a non-sweetened iced coffee with a little milk. It is alright. I think I will do a plain americano next.

The main point being–I am exactly like my old middle school teacher, drinking coffee every day, with a shelf devoted to reusable cold and hot cups. I don’t get caffeine headaches or anything, but I definitely want coffee every day.

As a matter of fact, I am sucking down the rest of my iced coffee as we speak. (Or, as I type. But I really feel like typing to you is talking to you, and even though all but three and a half of you never comment, I like to think that your reading is like talking back).

You would think for being such a health-minded person I would kick the habit. But, honestly, coffee is one of my strongest what-some-might-call vices, and I don’t want to give it up.

There is nothing quite as convenient as the coffee date for friends. Everybody can get what they want, and then sit and enjoy as they chat, soak in the aroma, and then head about their way an hour or two tops later. Coffee is friendly and convenient, with one or more shops and/or stands on every corner (especially in the PNW). Knowing that I have had a coffee, or have one to look forward to, makes me feel at home each day.

This habit can become quite expensive, so I had been making my own drinks with my mother’s espresso machine at home. Then two things intervened–one, my mother’s espresso machine started emitting smoke, and two, I have this strange desire to earn a gold star on my Starbucks card (30 purchases). So lately I have been purchasing, but as soon as the home espresso maker is fixed I will resume home-making so that I can know exactly what I am drinking and save a lot of money.

Coffee is a language that [almost] all Americans, no matter their background, have in common. Coffee, to me, is American culture. It is the culture of no culture–it is what keeps America going. So, yes, it can have its monetary and health drawbacks. So can lumpia. So can Russian Vodka. So can pulled pork. So can any other traditional cultural food. This is as it should be. If these things were good for you, they would not be as much fun. Coffee represents the bit of festivity present in the everyday monotony. Coffee represents the inner drive, and the blending of social and economic status. Coffee represents diversity–it is enjoyed in as many different ways as different types of people drink it. Coffee is a language shared by all, and a delicious language it is.

This is why I will not give up my coffee.

My drink may change from year to year, but whatever I happen to crave, that represents something that I would like to say.

As in my non-sweetened ice coffee with a dash of milk, now unfortunately watered down by slightly melted ice, today is saying: This is home.


a caffeinated


P.S. I am aware that America does not have a monopoly on coffee-consumption. I do believe that there is a sort of American mindset and approach to coffee.

4 thoughts on “The Coffee Culture: How Fueling My Addiction Celebrates Community

  1. i “tried” going off coffee…and i have to say, as much as i “need” it in the mornings to keep up with my crazy little men, i really enjoy a cup every morning and the occasional coffee outing with friends. i think life would be a little less exciting/satisfying without it! 🙂

  2. my first coffee was a snicker’s latte (a drink that I now find far too sweet) that my mom bought for me shortly after I was allowed to sit in the front seat. Fond memories.

  3. 1–When is Jesse NOT Blue Steeling?
    2–Artwork of pairs is also supposed to attract romance!
    3–The books also make me look super smart
    4–I’ll…tell you about the romance when it becomes worth talking about….
    5–The elephant prefers this spot MUCH more than atop that weird Ikea closet in the other house
    6–The rolltop is the classiest thing I own now! I wish I had a better chair to sit at when I am studying.
    7–I know that deep down you love the trolls.

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