Let’s get one thing straight: I don’t like coffee.
Let’s take a step back for a second.
I’m almost 27 years old. I’m a graduate student. I’ve worked late nights, overnights, and early mornings. And I don’t like coffee.
Okay, let me reword that. I don’t love coffee. I tolerate it, at best. Coffee has never been an enjoyable taste for me. Like, my taste buds have never said, “hmm yes, hot bean water. Delicious.” I don’t believe that anyone can actually say, with 100% honesty, that they crave this hot drink. Not for the taste, anyway.
“Oh, don’t worry,” they assured me, sly grins on their faces. “You will.”
Who’s they? Former bosses. Old colleagues. Classmates. My fiancé, who can’t start his day without a caffeine IV drip, and Lord have mercy on us all if he doesn’t.
No, I don’t love coffee. So you can imagine how confused – shocked, even – people get when they see me drinking it anyway.
“I thought you didn’t like coffee!” they scoff. It’s like the world’s most underwhelming betrayal.
I said I didn’t love it. I didn’t say I don’t drink it. The two are mutually exclusive, after all.
See, I don’t love coffee. But what I do love is the routine.
When I wake up on Saturday mornings, I head for the kitchen. Slippers on, bathrobe shrugging down one shoulder. Sunbeams tickling my face as they stream in through the window. I dig through the cupboard for my Starbucks grounds, courtesy of my neighbour. I get my filter and my favorite mug – white with a gold handle, says Love on the front in fancy letters. I measure out just the right amount of grounds, fill the machine with water, hit start, and I wait.
I close my eyes and let the warmth of the sun wash over my face. And just as the birds start to chirp, I hear it. That … coffee maker sound. You can’t quite describe it, because it’s like I’m clearing my throat, but so much better than that. Water droplets join in, keeping time, an orchestra forming in my kitchen. Suddenly, the conductor raises his baton, and the aroma of roasted beans becomes the melody. And all at once, I’m back in my childhood home. It’s Saturday morning, and I can smell the coffee all the way upstairs in my bedroom. I climb out of bed, pad down the stairs, and there’s my dad. He’s enjoying his morning cup, a slice of toast with cinnamon and sugar, reading the paper. It’s like a scene right out of a movie, and in that moment, I know everything is going to be okay. Because it’s Saturday, my dad’s making coffee, and nothing can go wrong when everything is so right.
So when you see me order a grande medium roast, room for dairy, thank you Breanne, what I’m really asking for is familiarity. Connection. A sense of comfort that I can drink from a to-go cup. Because Saturday morning coffees aren’t fuel for me. It’s a routine - a long-standing tradition, passed down unspoken from my father, and his father before him. It’s a way to validate what I’m doing, because if I can sit here with my coffee - two skim milk, two maple syrup - then that means everything is okay. Everything was okay then, and it’s all okay now. And in a world where nothing is certain, I find solace in that routine. The sounds - machines percolating, beans grinding. The smells - beans roasting, milk steaming. The warmth from the inside out as I enjoy my perfectly, mediocre drink.
Because who drinks coffee for the taste, anyway?