A not-so-bitter brew
Remember that time I gave up caffeine to boost my
“natural energy”? Yeah, me neither. My coffee obsession has reached a boiling point (pun intended). After giving up coffee and soda during pregnancy, I briefly — very briefly! — wondered if I could continue my caffeine-free existence after Oliver was born.
You know: with a newborn. Af- ter I went back to work. When I was up at 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., then up for the day by 4.
I’ve loved the aroma of freshbrewed coffee since childhood, when my mom would sip from her steamy mug on Saturday mornings. It was clearly im- portant to her — and, old soul that I was, I wanted in on the ac- tion. Coffee was as enticing as a bubbly glass of Champagne: strictly off-limits, so extremely desirable.
I kept away from the coffee pot until college, back when I drove an hour to make an 8 a.m. class and slammed into the end of my youthful exuberance. At 19, I found myself with a full course load, part-time job, long commute — and a need to keep it all together.
Like so many before me, I fell right into coffee’s clutches.
Though it wasn’t always that way, of course.
On a high school we stopped in the cafeteria of a local mall for lunch — and afterward, had 30 whole minutes to ourselves before returning to the bus. My friends and I took the opportunity to execute our ultimate act of rebellion: entering a coffee shop.
The delicious aroma lured us into the empty downstairs cafe. No one knew anything about espresso or chai, but we huddled around the menu board like jaded socialites and pretended to consider our options.
I was familiar with the place from many earlier shopping trips: a cozy coffee bar in the center of the mall, a prime spot for people-watching while Mom got her 3 p.m. caffeine boost. It felt wrong — illicit, even — to be there without an adult, but I was a 14-year-old with a crisp $10 bill. The world was my oys- ter.
As my friends fumbled through their orders, I casual- ly ducked behind a display of teapots: you know, just in case my father should happen to be out shopping (?). On a random weekday.
When I finally stepped up and received my coffee — just black, I’m sure — I took that first sip and . . . well.
Let’s just say my curiosity drained as quickly as yester- day’s bitter brew. There’s a reason Google’s popular search terms for it include “I don’t like coffee but want to,” “Is coffee an acquired taste,” and “Coffee for people who don’t like cof- fee.”
After becoming parents, my husband and I got a powerful introduction to functioning without sleep. Caffeine became more important than ever, get- ting us through each painful morning. (And afternoon. And evening.)
I thought my coffee obsession was bad . . . until I became a mother. Where I once slowly sipped my drink over the morning news, I now hustle upstairs to shower before the baby wakes up. My coffee is plunked down on the bathroom counter, and I’m lucky if it’s still lukewarm as I tend to my wet and matted hair.
And so I have entered the newest phase of my caffeinat- ed life: the Stop on the Way to Work.
If I leave on time for day care (50/50 shot), I have time to stop at a gas station to grab a second extra-large cup for the office. Sometimes I go regular, sometimes hazelnut . . . you know, just seeing where the wind takes me.
I see the same crew of men filling their cups every morning, the same staff and commuters who arrive each day like clockwork. Our coffee dance is familiar and intricate: reach around for the sugar, the cream, the lids. Caution: liquid is hot.
There I am, right in the thick of it: a regular.
Just don’t let my parents see me.