There are a lot of things I didn’t know about before I started college, and the importance of coffee was one of them. I knew people drank coffee, and that for many it’s an addiction, but I had no idea just how many people are coffee enthusiasts. I had no idea how culturally important it is.
I don’t claim to be any kind of coffee expert, although I wish I was. I have, however, joined the enthusiast club. Like I assume many do, I started off slow. There is a Starbucks on my college campus, and freshman year my meal plan included a couple hundred dining dollars I could use at our few food joints that aren’t the cafeteria, including Starbucks. I wouldn’t have gone in there if one of my friends wasn’t already addicted, but she was, so I did. She introduced me to frappuccinos, then mochas as it got colder, then finally I graduated to plain coffee. Especially iced coffee. I like hot, but iced is the stuff.
But I didn’t truly get addicted until I went to Costa Rica. The coffee industry is big there, and thus almost everyone drinks it. My host parents each drank a cup every morning, and since I ate breakfast with them, I did too. When I got back home, I dug out my parents’ old coffee pot and continued making some every morning.
When I climbed aboard the coffee bandwagon, I didn’t just gain a new favorite drink. I joined a community. Coffee shops are often the hub of a neighborhood — they’re one of the best places to meet up with friends, study, work, or just take a break. And they’re versatile. I’ve never been in two alike coffee shops (even chains develop local quirks over time). Each shop is reflective of the community it’s in. Going to coffee shops is one of the best ways to get to know a new city.
Plus, coffee is versatile. While there are those that look down their noses at anyone who doesn’t drink their coffee black, there are literally millions of ways to enjoy it. There are the universal drinks — lattes, cappuccinos, americanos, to name a few — and there are new creations every day from professional baristas. There’s almost no limit to what you can add to coffee.
It can be hard to order. Most coffee shops assume its customers know a little bit about coffee, so they don’t explicitly display what you can add to your coffee if you want. If you don’t drink coffee regularly, it can be intimidating to know what to ask for. But the beauty there is that baristas are experts, and are usually happy to give you a recommendation.
And speaking of beauty, coffee is one of the most photogenic things I have ever laid eyes on. To be honest, one of the (great many) reasons I love the blogging community is because we’re pretty much all addicted to coffee, and we love to take pictures of it. Every time I see a photo of a blanket, a laptop, and a mug of coffee, it just makes me happy. It may be cliche, but there’s a reason. Words and coffee just go together.
Coffee takes a biggish chunk out of my budget. I’m trying to cut back on buying it from shops, but I also like to support my local one. Like everything, it’s a balance. But even though my wallet might, I don’t regret taking up the habit. In addition to being able to enjoy one of the most delicious beverages on the planet, I can now truly enjoy the coffee community and all it has to offer.
All photos taken by the wonderful boyfriend, whose Flickr (with other amazing photos) can be found here
It’s interesting that you post about the cultural significance of coffee. I’ve succumbed to coffee because the atmosphere here at farrier school is that you must drink black coffee so strong that it stands up by itself, and I like the culture here. So I’ve succumbed.
V #aesthetic pictures ahh!!
I think coffee culture is interesting too, especially because I can’t stand coffee lol and so I’m always like, “What do people see in this?” (Or taste in it, as the car may be. 😂) I’m definitely a tea person!
*Case, not car. Stupid autocorrect. This is what I get for trying to comment via my phone, I guess. :P
In Sri Lanka we have a similar addiction to tea. You should try Sri Lankan tea some time :)
Coffee on the other hand has totally different place. For Colombo’s elite, it’s a hobby, and even though we don’t have Starbucks yet, we have a lot of coffee shops popping up. For the price of a cup of coffee in those places, you can buy a decent meal for two. For the middle class and the rural populace, black coffee has one simple medical application; it’s a laxative. It’s very interesting how simple things like this have very different cultural influence in different parts of the world :)
That is fascinating!
Now to get even more excited about coffee, watch the documentary “Barista” following a handful of people competing in the World Barista Competition.
Definitely going to have to remember that!
I never knew coffee could have such social influence – perhaps that explains the phenomenon of coffeehouses in Renaissance Europe and how they were known for spreading ideas. I actually don’t drink coffee but I’ve had a lot of people telling me to… and now I see why XD