I heart COFFEE

I love my coffee.  There’s nothing in the world that makes me happier upon waking than a hot cup of coffee.  Not my kids’ smiling faces, the fresh Arizona morning air, or the beautiful day that lies ahead of me.  I love it so much that after having my first baby (who was born on my birthday), I bought myself one of those Keurig single-serve brewers along with a bunch of  environmentally-unfriendly coffee-filled k-cups.  Every morning, I look forward to (and desperately need) that steaming cup of Keurig-brewed joe to perk myself up and prepare me for the day ahead (I’m not the type to bound out of bed in the morning ready to start the day).

I started drinking coffee in college and my habit reached its height in my late 20s while working full-time in Chicago.  I drank about 4 cups per day at the time before realizing that my intake had to be curtailed, not only for my daily caffeine consumption (which didn’t really affect me so much anymore), but the fact that the fancy coffee drinks were making a serious dent in my wallet.  I reluctantly decreased my trips to the café from a few times a week to once a week.

By the time I entered the Peace Corps, I was a full-blown coffee addict.  The problem was that coffee wasn’t readily available in Kazakhstan (tea is the customary drink).  A couple of days of withdrawal and a serious headache later, I had to settle for the only coffee available – Nescafe.  Yes, a travesty to true coffee drinkers.  At first I shunned it, not only because Nescafe IS nastiness packaged in granules (coffee should NOT be instant), but that it’s made by the evil corporation Nestle (a rant for another time).  However, after realizing there was no coffeemaker in sight, not to mention actual coffee, I gave in and started to drink the dreaded stuff.  Believe me, for a coffee addict stuck in a land devoid of coffee, Nescafe became a godsend (eventually as a seasoned Peace Corps volunteer, I was privy to passed-down French presses and coffee percolators along with ground coffee sent in care packages by former PCVs – a true godsend).

The only time I gave up coffee for an extended period of time was when I was pregnant with my firstborn baby.  After 8 long months without coffee, I missed it more than any other food or drink I had given up, including sushi (my favorite food) and margaritas (my favorite drink).  I looked forward to the day my baby was born so that I could send the husband out to Dunkin’ Donuts, which was just down the street from the hospital.  I resumed my coffee drinking after my baby was born and continued through my second pregnancy.  I couldn’t imagine giving it up again during my second pregnancy (I needed even more with an active toddler) and figured that caffeine can’t be that bad for your unborn baby (I must add that my second baby was a much better sleeper than my first.  Perhaps because she was a “coffee baby” while my first wasn’t accustomed to the caffeine in my breastmilk).

Although I am still going strong with a 2-cup-a-day habit, I mostly drink it at home.  However, one of the things I really missed while I was pregnant and while living abroad (not simultaneously) was going to a cafe.  I’m talking about the cafes you find here in the U.S. where they serve a thousand different kinds of coffee drinks, are open at any time of day, and where you can sit for hours without anyone bothering you.  In my single and childless days, I loved going to relax and enjoy a vanilla latte, most of the time by myself and a book or laptop, sometimes with a friend.  This is a luxury I first took for granted when I lived abroad.  The cafes abroad (at least in the countries I lived, not places like Paris) weren’t actual coffee shops – they were more like casual restaurants where they served food and drink.  They didn’t specialize in coffee, much less SERVE it (or if they did, it was of the Nescafe variety).  Also, the cafes in developing countries weren’t open at all hours.  In grad school, I used to go to the cafe after 10pm to study or write papers (back then it was perfectly normal for me to drink coffee at that time).  When I moved to Thailand shortly after grad school, I missed those late-night cafe excursions so much I would dream about it.  One time I dreamt about going to a cafe at midnight!

I still think of going to a cafe as a luxury.  Nowadays the problem isn’t supply, since I live in a college-town with several 24-hour cafes, not to mention a Starbucks every half mile (this is the U.S. after all).  I just don’t have the opportunity anymore with two kids who are with me all the time.  So during those infrequent times I hire a babysitter to watch the kids while my husband is away for work, I go to a cafe by myself like I used to.  I order a cup of coffee and enjoy some much-needed and desired quiet and solitude.  Sometimes I write, sometimes I read, sometimes I just relax, look around, and enjoy being alone with my thoughts.  Aaaaahhh.  There’s nothing like having children and living abroad to appreciate the little things in life.

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