I never thought I’d be a coffee snob. I
avoided the stuff until this past year or so, opting instead for hot
chocolate or chai tea and similar hot drinks with a spice. I don’t
need my Starbucks/expresso/latte… (insert “coffee” term) fix
ever. I’m just not one of those people.

I was turned off by the idea of coffee
in my youth. Growing up, I’d often see my dad’s large white coffee
cup with the large rainbow apple computer logo on it sitting on the
top shelf in the fridge. It always stored less than three inches of
stale coffee in it, and the inside of the cup nearly always sported
dark brown rings from previous refrigerated storage of the exact
same cup of coffee. He’d take it out, heat it up, drink an inch, and
store in the fridge again once it had been forgotten and cooled. The
smell stunk up the fridge and kitchen with a stale stench that I
began to associate with lame adult things. Not that my dad was lame;
it’s just that I associated coffee with things that adults dosed
themselves with, like vitamins and apple cider vinegar (which also
reeked), and menthol-like deodorant smells.

College introduced me to another class
of coffee drinkers. Yet this was before “coffee shops” were an
undeniable cultural entity—before coffee became a destination and a
social experience. This was a demographic that was young and social
and pretend-stressed about studying and deadlines. Basically, we used
the caffeine to get cracked up and stay late to finish papers. Still,
I didn’t perceive it as something to be tasted and enjoyed. In fact,
I drank coffee one time in college and it was a mistake. I did it all
wrong. I was incredibly tired and the plan was to stay up late to
finish a paper that I had put off for more enjoyable weekend
activities. I whipped up instant coffee and the chemical taste was
mitigated only by sugar and no cream. I regretfully swallowed the
whole dose, cringing from the taste. Not being used to the effects
of caffeine, I became too jittery to concentrate on my paper. It was a
disaster the whole way. Not only did I not realize that coffee is
coffee is coffee wasn’t true, it made me feel like crap. I avoided
it for another eight years.

It was much later in my twenties, when
I began dragging my laptop to bars and restaurants and yes, coffee
shops, to use their wi-fi that I began to inch closer to coffee. I’d
order something in Barnes and Nobles just to sit in that section and
play by the rules, but it was often an iced sweet confectionary
anti-coffee something. Then I discovered chai tea and chai tea
lattes. I wasn’t there yet. I’d order an iced coffee and kill it with
cream everything and sweet everything. At this point, I’d decided
that I just wasn’t a coffee drinker, and was fine with that.

The last year of my twenties, I
re-emerged in cubicle world. This meant a place where coffee is
brewing on or about 9am in the office every morning. I ignored the
smells and drip sounds for a while, but when the grind began to feel
like a grind and I came into work fatigued, I found myself at the
break room table like everyone else. The most punctual guy in the
office was the one that usually made the coffee. He is also the guy
that didn’t bother to measure out the acceptable allotted amount of
grounds for the twelve-cup pot we shared. Instead, he filled the
paper filter up until the grounds leveled off at about a centimeter
below the brim. Needless to say, that coffee was strong. The heat bit
my teeth, and the blackness seemed to immediately trip my heart.
Because it was so strong, I drank it sparingly.

And then, like most things you try
intermittently, you develop a tolerance. This strong coffee was no
different for me. It began to taste right, and the morning cup of it
began to feel comfortable in my hands and on my desk. Sometimes I’d
go back for a second cup. I could hack it. I could handle it. And
what’s more, I enjoyed it.

Now I’m at a new daytime gig, and the
coffee here just ain’t the same. It’s weak. Even the darker roasts
taste watered down and artificially perfumed. I want the old coffee
back. Now this change has got me wondering if I’m somewhat of a
coffee snob, because I’d consider the coffee here “bad” compared
to what I know and like. Honestly, I’m surprised that I care. We only
go back about a year, and our love is new, but when it’s good, I
think this black drink has got me by the curlies.