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Coffee: A Constant in Life

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The term “coffee culture” never made sense. How can something as important and omnipresent in our lives be confined to something so small as a “culture”? We grow up with it, and we grow old with it.  It helps bind us together, shares in our happiest moments, our saddest, as well as our most hectic and our most exciting.  It’s consumed in every country on earth, and is so entrenched in our lives, that it cannot be held to a culture all its own.

We use coffee to connect and reconnect with each other and the world around us. When you run into an old friend to whom you haven’t spoken in years, often the first thing you say is “you should drop by for coffee soon.” Parents drink it while sitting in the stands, in dance studio waiting rooms, or outside waiting for their kids to come out of school. Those steaming cups keep their hands warm while catching up on the latest gossip or complaining about in-laws.

As those kids get older, it’s often the first “forbidden” drink they’re allowed to have. Learning to use the coffee maker and brewing their favorite flavor is a rite of passage, and it creates a feeling of independence and maturity.  It also allows them to display their sophistication by showing off their skill to their friends. When they get their driver’s licenses in high school, one of the first ways teens express their freedom is by picking up their friends and hanging out at a local coffee shop.  Teenagers are not known for hitting the sack early, so having a fresh-brewed cup first thing in the morning becomes something they need, just like their parents.

As they age, coffee is still an important part of life. The college café becomes a hot spot for studying, group-work, and just hanging out. “Coffee Houses” are a great place to hear local music. Countless all-nighters finishing papers and studying are fueled by cup after cup. The big issues and dramas are argued, discussed, and resolved over late night (leading into early morning) coffees. College is also where most of us discover the wonder of hangovers, with coffee as a cure for that headache.

How many magical first date dinners are extended by having “just one more” cup of dessert coffee? How many by inviting your date over for a coffee afterwards? How many people have fallen in love, sitting on a café patio drinking coffee and talking while the world walks by?

Those lovers are the ones who become the parents watching practice. They’re the ones having friends and family over for a cup, or to show off their new espresso maker. Business is done in meetings over coffee in large boardrooms. Busy workdays make coffee breaks necessary. Busy weeks are punctuated by quick coffees with old friends before heading home to put the kids to bed.  Before traveling to visit grandma, that fresh-brewed cup is necessary to make it through the drive without dozing off. Also, let’s not forget that coffee helps in not abandoning that post-child diet. At least you won’t have to give that up, unlike every other non-water drink!

As life moves on and slows down, coffee continues to be a constant companion. Sitting out on the back deck, or in that old recliner with the newspaper or a good book (or E-book, nowadays!) is how many choose to spend their well-earned occasional quiet days in retirement. A steady stream of friends and well-wishers, all with coffees in hand, is the recipe for a relaxing and enjoyable time.

As we work our way through our lives, coffee is one of the few, if not the only, thread that runs through every stage. It also intertwines different cultures during each of those stages. In our youth, punk, rock, rap, and even pop music culture, all are known to identify coffee as an important aspect. Through our lives, coffee is present in cultural traditions all over the country. The Italian Espresso, the Spanish Carajillo, and even the Irish Coffee. No matter how we identify ourselves, coffee is more than likely a big part of how we socialize and how we share our culture with the world.

And of course, sitting at your computer, contemplating sentence structures and topic ideas is the perfect time to have a cup. Time to put on another pot.



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