Never in my adolescence did I dream that I would be a coffee lover. I hated coffee. I could sometimes enjoy a gas station cappuccino, but even that often involved adding extra cinnamon or cocoa powder, depending on the flavor. My relationship with coffee was in a sad state.
I started sharing a cup of coffee with my mom once or twice a week when I went to the community college in town. We would stand in the kitchen drinking Folgers — mostly half and half and sugar — and eating bagels before she went to work and I went to class. It was more of a morning pastime I enjoyed with my mother than a desire to drink coffee.
I left for Northwestern College (now University of Northwestern – St. Paul or simply UNW) unaffected by any so-called coffee addiction. Two of my roommates would go out for coffee together some mornings, and a freshman across the hall had a latte maker. She offered to make us lattes any time, as long as we brought our own milk. I started going across the hall for lattes with increasing frequency, directly corresponding to approaching paper deadlines and my pulling all-nighters. By Christmas, I was sitting in the little school cafe with the girls enjoying Starbucks mochas.
After Garth and I got married, my coffee consumption declined. He hated coffee at the time, and I didn’t really miss it anyway. Then I got a coupon in the mail — half off a pound of beans at Dunn Bros. I had never had their coffee, but it seemed like a good opportunity to try something new, and after checking out the company, I found they were both local and ethical. Within a year, I was a genuine coffee lover, and so was Garth. We would try to convince ourselves we didn’t need it, but that didn’t stop us from making it nearly every day our senior year.
For both of us, I noticed a sort of pattern leading to the status of self-proclaimed coffee lover. If you would like to just enjoy a cup of coffee with your pushy coffee-addicted friends, here’s your guide to becoming not only coffee-tolerant but a coffee-lover.
- Find a friend who loves coffee. This is an essential step. You need the advice and support of a regular coffee drinker to steer you toward the good stuff. Someone with whom to drink coffee, someone to help you branch out and try their favorites. Accept help; you can’t do this alone.
- Start with the aroma. You have to admit the smell of coffee is relaxing. Cafes smell wonderful, a fresh brew smells wonderful, your friend’s mocha smells wonderful. Spend time at a coffee shop: study there, go there with friends, breathe deep. Don’t order coffee. Just enjoy the scent.
- Pick a brand. By “brand” I mean choose a coffee shop — a place where you like both the atmosphere and the menu items. When your friend orders coffee, order a smoothie, hot chocolate, or tea.
- Start with the fru-fru drinks. You can’t start in the big-leagues. Go for something with a lot of milk or cream and sugar. Caramel or white chocolate lattes are pretty sweet. If you don’t like sweet, go for dark chocolate or something with cinnamon. Get a cappuccino and add flavor. Try iced coffee or frappes. You’ll find something you like.
- Wean from the fru-fru. Or buy a coffee maker. Maybe you’d rather spend your money on coffee brewed to perfection by a barista, but my guess is probably not. I recommend a French press, but you can do your own research. My mom has had her Mr. Coffee pot for years, and my sister loves her Keurig. Buy some good coffee like Peace Coffee or a pound of beans from your favorite coffee shop (I get mine from Dunn Bros.). Do yourself a favor and brew it strong. For lattes, steam your milk, add your favorite flavors. Taste and see that the coffee is good.
- Try a day without coffee. Up until now, you’ve been skeptical. You drink coffee regularly, sure, but you still deny your reliance on coffee and question if you even actually like it. On your day without coffee, you feel a sense of pride at first. But by lunch, you feel something is missing. Maybe you shouldn’t have skipped coffee this morning. Maybe you’ll go get a latte to go, just for a fix. But no, you don’t need coffee. After all, you don’t actually like coffee, right? Maybe you’ll go another day just to prove it.
- Get some coffee. There, there, you knew this day was coming. After a few no coffee test-runs, make some coffee. Smell the exotic aroma, stir the silky dark fluid, sip the warmth that penetrates into your soul and awakens your synapses. You can drink this stuff black for all you care, as long as you get your coffee.
*Shortcut: Pull an all-nighter with a coffee lover and a pot of coffee. By morning, you won’t care about any previous notion of coffee tasting awful. It was there for you; the taste of coffee is the taste of companionship and success.