(Before I go any further, I've chosen to illustrate this post with a mug made by my pal Gary Rith, awesome potter and prolific blogger! Isn't it great?)
Here is my personal history of coffee consumption, A Tale of Seduction and Loss, with a Redeeming Ending, in Three Acts.
Act I: Christi works as a barista
I first flirted with coffee as an undergrad (mainly as a vehicle for cream and sugar), but the real relationship didn't start until I had a job as a barista at a coffee shop in Phoenixville, PA. I learned the difference between good and bad espresso, cut out sugar in order to savor the coffee itself, and learned to love Sumatran beans. Then, when I was in grad school in Santa Cruz, madly drawing sheep skulls and bird nests while gaining my scientific illustration degree, coffee was my late-night friend and companion. I learned to love coffee both for itself and for its effects.
Act II: Christi roasts her own
So a few years went by, enjoying my daily cup of warm round-flavored, aromatic coffee (cream, no sugar)...the morning ritual. Sometimes I would fall for an afternoon cup but this was never a good idea. At some point my coffee snobbishness took a new turn when some friends of mine started learning how to roast your own beans. Did you know you can roast coffee in one of those old-school hot air popcorn poppers? So cool! I ordered a bunch of green beans from various countries (see Sweet Maria's website for a fascinating reading experience and good source of beans if you're interested) and learned the difference between a Full City and a French roast. I also learned to taste the difference between, say African beans (sharp, clear) and Indonesian beans (heavy bodied, rich). My stars...roast your own beans, let them sit for 12 hours, grind them up and you will have the most amazing cuppa you've every had! SO nice...smooth and a great buzz.
Act III: Tragedy and Redemption
So all was well, or so I thought. I'll spare you the details, but suffice to say that last May I had to make a complete diet change that included giving up coffee (and black tea and gluten and dairy and anything sweet). That was a blow, let me tell you. No headaches, but I spent about a month actively dealing with the daily craving and wanting to knock the next person I saw walk by with a Gimme cup at the market on the head. During the darkest time, I might just have killed for an espresso brownie with ice cream. But ya know, I dealt with it, and realized at some point that I had my own energy again, and am no longer dependent on coffee and caffeine to keep me going. I don't miss being a complete spaz while under the influence. I gave up my crutch and discovered I could walk on my own.
A year later, I still miss coffee...I can still hear it's siren call loud and clear and have to tie myself to the proverbial mast. Decaf is just not the same, although there are some decent roasts out there. I'm discovering the subtleties and pleasures of green tea.
My 1946 Esquire Handbook for Hostsbook describes coffee as the "drink that cheers but does not inebriate." There's a magnet on my fridge that says, "Coffee: do stupid things faster with more energy!"