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Musings on Coffee

All of my stories mention coffee. Often. The first book kind of revolves around coffee, as it’s Kate’s life passion.

Coffee is so many things to me. I started drinking it when I was in high school, wanting to be like my grandpa whom I adored. He was a Navy man and had a cup with every single meal of the day. Occasionally the whole family would go to one of those home-style restaurants, our favorite was the Delta Café (anyone remember the Black Eyed Pea?) Whenever the waitress asked if he needed cream and sugar, he’d always respectfully say, “No ma’am. Don’t ruin that coffee.”

I remember thinking he was such a badass, drinking a cup of black coffee alongside his chicken fried steak and gravy-smothered mashed potatoes.

Didn’t someone say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? In actuality, I was just trying to be a badass like my grandpa and impress my friends, but let’s go with the first thing. It sounds more flattering. For me.

By the time I went to college, I actually enjoyed black coffee. The more I drank it, the stronger I liked it. There was this coffee shop where I went to college that roasted their own beans in house, and they had a “bottomless cup” that you could buy for like $3 and you could refill the mug as often as you wanted during that visit. I basically lived at this coffee shop with my friends and study partners, and it was not unusual for me to consume six cups of coffee over a several hour period.

Side note: that coffee shop had the most delicious, massive cinnamon rolls. Any time we go back to that college town I HAVE to stop in and get a cinnamon roll, or someone’s gonna get hurt.

During my last year of undergrad I got a job at Starbucks. This is where I really learned about coffee. If anyone out there works at Starbucks, don’t take offense to the next group of people I’m about to give a disclaimer to. If anyone works at a legitimate, specialty coffee shop, I’ll have you know that yes, I understand that having worked at Starbucks doesn’t warrant calling myself a real ‘barista.’ But I’ll get to that.

At Starbucks, I learned about coffee roasts, beans, proper storage of coffee, ideal coffee-to-water ratios for brewing, the different types of grind depending on the brewing method. I learned about French press coffee, which is now my personal preferred method of brewing. I learned the difference between an Americano, a latte, a cappuccino (though I admit I never mastered the art of steaming that thick, creamy, rich foam that is essential to a good cappuccino.) I learned what an Undertow is (if you’ve never heard of this, go to Starbucks now and ask for one. You won’t regret it. I’ll wait.)

It was probably the most fun I’d ever had at a job. I only quit because I’d gotten into the doctorate program I’d applied to, and figured I’d better look for a side job related to the career I was pursuing.

Never stopped drinking coffee, though.

And then, I discovered a real coffee shop. The kind that Ristretto is based on. Yes, the employees at a place like this can come across arrogant and judgmental, and like complete coffee snobs.

Which they are. Even if they say they aren’t.

I’m a coffee snob, even if I try to pretend I’m not. If you put artificial creamer in your coffee, I’m judging you. Hard stop.

I’ll still be your friend, though.

But the thing is, if it’s one of the good places, they have the goods to back up the snobbery. There is nothing better than a well-done cappuccino. The drink is pure heaven in itself. Oh, and you want to add a little leaf pattern or heart carved into the caramel-colored espresso with the pristine white foam? Yes, please. Thank you. That’s delightful.

And as much as I loved Starbucks, and still do, you’ll never get a cappuccino like that there.

Making coffee in the morning is a ritual of comfort for me. Those first few deep breaths of the smell as it brews … mmm. Pure joy.

I drink coffee all. Day. Long.

I’m pretty sure I’m starting to get a stomach ulcer … so I gave myself two choices. Cut back on the coffee, or start taking omeprazole.

I chose the omeprazole.

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