This is my testimony. I drink a lot of coffee and probably more than my fair share of beer these days, and as such I was thinking about how funny it is that I like either one because of how much I used to hate them both. So I thought I would tell my story and intersperse with some general thoughts on the matter.
I’ll do coffee first because my guess is that more people would be interested in the beer portion, so I’ll publish the beer stuff in Part 2. When I was growing up, my parents didn’t really drink coffee. My dad has since begun drinking a cup or two of joe each morning, but my mom still abstains. But other people’s parents drank coffee, and my grandparents and extended family drank coffee, so I was around it enough. I loved the smell of a freshly brewed pot in the morning, but was never given a chance to taste it.
But then when I was in high school our town got a Starbucks and everyone lost their minds. Suddenly a lot of my friends were drinking coffee, or at least espresso with about five cups of milk and four days worth of sugar and several pumps of whatever flavor they wanted to add. I tried coffee a few times in high school but hated it. But still I felt compelled to like it because of how much everyone else did (which I think they call “peer pressure” or something like that) and how much I liked the smell.
So during my freshman year of college I made conscious efforts to enjoy coffee. I started off with cappuccinos and lattes because they were mostly milk and I could get one pump of hazelnut and make it almost taste like one of those little Ferrero Rocher chocolate things. But I’m not a huge fan of sweets, so I got tired of that pretty quick. However, the strategy proved effective because I started to enjoy, however meek the flavor was, the taste of coffee. So I consider this part of my journey to be a success, even though I spent an absurd amount of money at Starbucks and didn’t really taste much of the coffee.
The next logical step was to try adding hazelnut to coffee without all the frothy milk. To this end I went to Sam’s Club and bought a giant box of individual hazelnut creamers and started adding two creamers to my brewed-at-home coffee. Then that became to sweet so I reduced it down to one creamer. By now I was a sophomore at Texas A&M and my best friend and roommate Alan was already a huge coffee drinker. We enjoyed getting up, making a pot of coffee, playing a little Goldeneye on the N64 I bought off of some dude in a trailer park in Bryan, Texas, and generally being college kids.
This continued until my junior year, when everything changed. One Saturday we woke up feeling very bad because we had thrown a party the night before. We used to brew beer at our apartment (more on that in Part 2), and between that and the several cases of Keystone Light others brought to the party, we had overindulged. But that was okay, because we were both [definitely over 21] and our youthful systems could handle the hangover as long as we had some coffee, which Alan kindly began brewing. But apparent tragedy struck as, pouring myself a cup of mud, I noticed that our most recently purchased box of hazelnut creamers was empty.
This was it. This was my opportunity to fully grasp being an adult. I knew that if I tried to drive it would be very unsafe because I would probably have gotten the spins, plus going to Sam’s on a Saturday is a harrowing experience anyway, what with people buying stuff for huge events and the olfactory onslaught of free samples. This is especially true for a severely hungover  year old. So here I was. Young, sweaty, bloated, uncomfortable, exhausted, hungry for Whataburger, achy, and ready to engage in some personal growth.
And so, as other men before me had, I stared into the blank eyes of adversity, demanded that the beastly aversion to coffee stand and deliver or else run away a coward. And I came out on top. I continued pouring my cup of black coffee and sipped it with increasing vigor as slowly, painfully slowly, my hangover subsided. Alan and I incrementally became more human as we watched an auto auction, reruns of Whose Line is it Anyway? and a Mexican telenovella that we sometimes watched (despite our combined Spanish being, as they say, muy malo) called Un Gancho al Corazón.
Seriously, watch that show’s introduction. Tell me you wouldn’t be captivated by that in spite of a language barrier.
But anyway, that was an impactful day. I got really into coffee there for a few years. I’d get dark, exotic roasts from little boutique coffee shops and debate the pros and cons of African coffee versus South American coffee. After some time I settled down and began drinking coffee because that was just what sounded best in the mornings. I still occasionally get a nice dark roast, and if I’m on vacation I might even get a cappuccino, but for the most part it’s Folgers Breakfast Blend because light roast coffee has more caffeine than dark roast coffee.
It’s interesting to me that coffee is such an adult beverage. I mean, you occasionally see young kids drinking sodas or Slurpees or iced tea or other things with caffeine in them. But if I saw some seven-year-old kid drinking a cup of coffee, I would 100% judge whoever gave that beverage to that kid. And it’s weird that it’s such an acquired taste. I have talked to lots of people who are now big time coffee drinkers and with very few exceptions they have all said something along the lines of “I didn’t use to like coffee, but then I started drinking it in college and now I can’t live without it.”
That’s crazy, right? Anyway, the moral of the story is that coffee is an acquired taste. There are a lot of things out there that are acquired tastes that everyone seems to be okay with. Most vegetables, coffee, beer, certain types of cheese, etc. But why is it that we care about that? I get it with vegetables, but no one needs coffee to survive, right? So why is there pressure to acquire the taste to begin with? If someone says “I don’t like coffee,” the response should be, “Oh, yeah, I get that. It can be bitter.” and nothing else. Maybe suggest Red Bull or something if they’re saying that because they need caffeine but don’t drink coffee.
Anyway, I’m about halfway through the pot I made this morning, so I’m going to finish that and write the Beer article. Y’all have a great Friday.