When people ask me the secret to how I am so cheerful all the time, the possible answers are endless. I could chalk it up to any of the many things for which I am grateful including a great family, wonderful friends and colleagues, good health and living a good life. But the one factor that never fails in keeping my spirits high is a great caffeine buzz… one that has probably been going on for over 40 years.
My earliest memories of the sensual experience of good coffee go back to my childhood and the percolator. Whenever we had guests over, the wonderful aroma of percolated coffee would fill the house, which created an association in my head between drinking coffee and its social nature, an association that would last a lifetime.
Maybe once per year I would ask for some, but my underdeveloped taste buds did not fully appreciate coffee just yet, regardless of how much milk or sugar I dumped into my cup. Perhaps that was just as well, I could not imagine a heavily caffeinated version of me in childhood.
It was in my later high school years that the aroma of fresh coffee wafting through the cafeteria heralded that rite of passage and the long standing love affair that continues today with my daily brew. On certain cold mornings or after traveling 15 km on city buses in the middle of snow storms, that first cup of coffee with friends was to become the source of great memories as the heartwarming conversation that accompanied it easily melted away the morning’s chill.
It was in the university years that coffee truly became my best friend. I could always count on coffee to perk me up for those ridiculously early 8:30 classes or to keep me going through the all-nighters, polishing up essays and term papers at the last minute. Coffee was also there to wake up the extrovert in me for my shifts at your “friendly neighbourhood pharmacy” and crank up the energy levels for interacting with the public at one of Canada’s busiest branches. I admit in those early years, I was not terribly picky about the coffee. I had a sense of which ones I liked and which ones tasted a bit flat to me, but my taste buds were still just developing.
It was when I started my career that coffee found its permanent place in my heart, as the coffee break with co-workers became a daily ritual. It was at that time as well that I had acquired my first drip coffee maker for home, to make that first morning coffee to help open my eyes and wake up the energetic young professional. That’s when the journey really took off as I started experimenting with different brands, beans and flavours.
The coffee journey doesn’t even take a vacation as I love traveling abroad and sampling coffee as the host country enjoys it. My trips to Sweden made me appreciate the magic of stronger & bolder flavours for fika, while in France, it was love at first taste with Café Crème.
Most coffee drinkers have a favourite way to enjoy their coffee. While I have had favourite combinations over the years, today I tend to switch it up from day to day just to keep the coffee journey interesting. Friends who know me well do not attempt to prepare a coffee for me anymore, they just plop the coffee condiments on the counter and say, “Help yourself.”
While I would not consider myself a coffee snob, after 30 years of coffee drinking, I felt that I had hit a plateau where my taste buds were getting disappointed with a number of the commercially available brands on the market as well as their seemingly short life span regardless of the gadgets used to try to extend their life. Don’t get me wrong, if a friend served me coffee or a colleague offered to go out and buy a round of coffee, I would always appreciate the kindness and happily drink what was served to me. However at home, I felt like I was ready for something more.
The game changer for me was my Christmas present to myself last year, a Nespresso machine. Initially I struggled with the idea of what seemed like such extravagance, but with a couple of incentives offered at the time of purchase, I bit the bullet. Today, I have absolutely no regrets for that splurge… I consider the Nespresso experience one of life’s simple yet major pleasures.
The Nespresso machine started me on a coffee journey very similar to my journey with wine, becoming acquainted with the distinct flavours of different growing regions, as well as taking the time to notice its specific taste notes (for example, spicy, woody, earthy, nutty, smokey, fruity, etc). With its wide range of tastes and intensities, I can switch it up daily and respond to very specific coffee cravings. The best part is that it does not take a 16 ounce cup of it to make a statement, a little goes a long way. Nespresso made me really appreciate the effort that goes into the holy grail of morning beverages, something I know I have sometimes taken for granted.
The Nespresso experience really added a new dimension to my coffee ritual, one that I am enjoying as I am writing this now. I could not imagine being a writer and not having my brain cells gently fired up in the morning by the sight, smell and taste of a perfectly brewed cup of coffee… or two… or three.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,