Coffee: A Love Affair

This part of the country experienced record-breaking wind last Friday that resulted in massive power outages across the national capital region over the weekend. Clay was home for the weekend (woohoo) so we were able to ride out the storm together and introduce the children to Monopoly and flashlight tag. Our stove and hot water heater are gas so we were fine – just a little cold because this house doesn’t have a fire place (womp womp). I instagrammed a picture of Clay grinding coffee using a power converter in our 4Runner for our French press on Saturday morning because the absence of electricity wasn’t going to come between us and our coffee.


{enjoying an Americano on the Ayrshire coast of Scotland}

I admit that I am intrigued by people who don’t drink coffee. It is such an integral part of my morning and afternoon (and occasional evening) routine that I honestly have trouble imaging my life without it. Not only is it my number one source of antioxidants, research shows that multiple cups of coffee a day does far more good than harm. Ensuring that I reap the benefits, I am a simple girl when it comes to my coffee – either black or with a splash of cream and the occasional sprinkle of stevia. No flavored coffee. No artificial creamers or sweeteners (blech…) and I limit my lattes to special treat status. Those who know me know my love affair with coffee and my penchant to lean into my coffee snob reputation. I can’t help it – I love coffee. I love the taste. I love the way it makes me feel. I love the stories behind each region and roast of bean. I love the cultural impact coffee has around the world. And I love how it doesn’t matter what language is spoken or skin color is represented – we can always sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee together. Coffee is a universal language.

When I was young, my dad, the main coffee drinker of the house, would leave well before the sun rose and pick up coffee on the way to work. My mom, despite having four children in the span of five years, never drank coffee in the morning in her younger years. Therefore my childhood memories of coffee are limited to the occasional pot of decaf on a cold night (complete with powdered creamer) and the rare visits from my Dad’s parents, who would brew a pot of coffee at 5am every morning of their stay. To this day, whenever I smell the increasingly rare combination of brewing coffee and Virginia Slims, I always think of my Grandma in her powder blue housecoat.

By the time I reached my early teenage years and had access to Turkey Hill and Wawa, I discovered the automatic cappuccino machines that are filled with chemicals and powdered concoctions. 35-year-old Karen is horrified at the prospect of drinking such muck but 14-year-old Karen thought that drinking vanilla-flavored gas station cappuccinos were a sign of maturity and high-brow taste (check out this article about these horrifying machines). I would drink the occasional cup of regular coffee but my allegiance was to gas station cappuccinos (<— it pains me greatly to type that). But when I was 17, I got an after school job at Harrington’s Coffee Company, an independent coffee shop in historic downtown Kennett Square. And my world was forever changed.


{summer between my junior and senior year of college}

Jars of coffee beans sourced from around the world lined the perimeter. A chalkboard listed the four brews of the day – Harrington’s #45 was the house blend and available everyday. The smell was intoxicating when you would enter the shop. The pre-war wood floors had a slight slant and the espresso machine was almost always hissing and sputtering. Southern Pecan was the most popular flavor of brewed coffee – customers would have an extra bounce in their step if it were available that day. I worked there after school and during summer and winter breaks – even throughout college. I learned the art of layering a latte, the exact ratio of espresso to milk in a cappuccino, and the most delicious chai tea recipe. And thus began my love affair with coffee.


{I still dream about this French toast}

When we first started dating, Clay was not a coffee drinker but I slowly convinced him to join the dark side. As newlyweds, Clay and I would walk from our apartment to Tin Pan Galley in Sackets Habor, New York and order coffee and stuffed French toast. Almost 14 years later, we surprise each other with cups of coffee and it’s been a tradition to gift each other coffee mugs every Christmas. We are always sure to visit a coffee shop whenever we go to a new city and if we travel to a place known for their coffee, we always pick up a bag of beans or two (Clay recently brought back some from Green World Farms in Hawaii). In our house, coffee is love. It’s bringing a cup to the other still laying in bed, it’s preparing the beans the night before, it’s excitedly telling each other about a new coffee shop we’re sure the other would appreciate, and it’s sitting down and enjoying a cup together whenever possible. Coffee is simply one of my greatest loves.


It’s supposed to rain this afternoon and evening. That sounds like as good of a reason as any for an afternoon cup of coffee. Do you have a love affair with coffee? What is your favorite way to drink coffee?

6 thoughts on “Coffee: A Love Affair

  1. My gateway coffee drink was an English Toffee Cappuccino from Tim Horton’s or General Foods International (powdered… eww) French Vanilla Cafe if it was the middle of the night and I had a paper to finish by morning. I, too, thought these unequivocally meant that I was an adult. Now, at age (days away from) 36, I actually ENJOY black coffee. Sadly, I haven’t been able to drag my husband over to the dark side, but my daughter would drink a cup daily if I let her. But I don’t, because I can’t think of anything scarier than a caffeinated three-year-old.


    1. Haha – I remember the International Cafe commercials. They made me want to be an adult. I love Tim Horton’s coffee…unfortunately, we haven’t lived in a place with any since 2007. And yes, a caffeinated three-year-old is terrifying. 🙂


  2. Neither Andy nor I are coffee drinkers… we don’t even own a coffee pot! Andy “drinks” coffee only when he’s in the field and trying to stay awake. I’ve always wish I were a coffee drinker because I feel like I’m missing out on something!


  3. As a new coffee drinker, this was fascinating to read. Ha! I honestly could not stand the taste of coffee up until a few months ago. I tried drinking it a million ways and just couldn’t do it. I finally came around but still need a bit of sweetener to enjoy it. I’m slowly cutting back on the creamer though, so I feel hopeful that I’m track to enjoying my coffee in a healthier way. 🙂


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