Published on 2024-02-21

"Notes on Coffee" by winter

(This isn't exactly a response, or necessarily even in dialogue with winter's piece, but I have been thinking of writing about coffee for a few weeks and this article is what pushed me over the edge)

A lot of people really, really love coffee. I, ostensibly, really really love coffee. People who don't often find this kind of weird. "Isn't coffee supposed to taste like shit?" they ask. "Yes," we respond. "Then why do you keep drinking it?" they continue.

When I was a kid I wasn't allowed to drink coffee. Probably for a good reason. I always saw coffee as an "adult" drink, in line with beer and wine, things around the house I wasn't allowed to touch.

The first time I drank coffee would have probably been in the 11th grade (two years before post-secondary). Then, it served a purely functional purpose. If someone asked me why I liked coffee, I wouldn't have anything to say about the taste. I feared coffee. I knew it was addictive. I knew it could hurt you if you weren't careful. Knowing I was getting into it as a means to an end, I never tried using sugar or cream. I just wanted to stay awake, to stay focused. I liked coffee because it helped me do what I wanted to do, be who I wanted to be.

I drank a lot of coffee during that period of my life. I developed a much better understanding of how over-extending yourself impacts your body. I do, however, look back on those moments, laying on the floor in the middle of the night, jittery, unable to sleep, with a strange sort of fondness. It certainly wasn't healthy. Staying awake, staying alert--all these things demand a delicate balance of self-care. Coffee on its own is a shortcut; it's one that the body doesn't forget. And despite this, I hold those memories with fondness because despite how unhealthy it was, I knew in those moments that my circumstances were of my own design. My pain was my own fault; I was in control.

Coffee tastes good. It's hard to explain to people who aren't used to drinking it but even though it doesn't taste good at first, black coffee becomes better the more you drink it. It's not Stockholm syndrome. I don't really think it's just a matter of acquired taste, either. Coffee is something you develop a bond with over time. The ritual of brewing and drinking coffee in the morning has become a tradition for many, and it serves us well. It's more than just the taste--it's the respect. There's too much focus on how it literally tastes and not enough on how it feels. It feels good to drink coffee.

I don't drink coffee as a purely functional thing anymore. It's hard to go without it; I find that I tend to be really tired throughout the day if I forget. I've tried to regulate my caffeine intake to keep that from happening, but it's not worth it. It's not even about the caffeine, more often than not. The act of preparing it in and of itself serves to put you in the right frame of mind. It's the partnership between you and the organic compound. It's the commitment to invest in yourself every morning--to treat yourself with the love and respect you deserve. That's what makes it feel good. That's what makes it so valuable.

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