I began drinking coffee at an early age, perhaps around seven or so. I’d often accompany my mother to brunches and sit with the ladies as they sipped their coffee, chatting. It was all too elegant — the way they lifted their cups, legs crossed, lipstick staining the ceramic. Though less than thrilled by the bitter taste, I always asked for a sip, longing to be as chic and grown. Eventually, I acquired a taste for it…and eventually, that taste grew to love.
And then, that love grew to passion. For many, coffee is a way of life — a ritual, if you will — that expresses more than a necessary caffeine fix in the morning. For me, this ritual is sacred. We listen to wine aficionados and read about restaurants that foodies love, but what about those of us who are serious about our coffee? What about those who take time to enjoy, to connect, and to experience the pleasures that coffee has to offer? The Coffee Experiment is for you.
It really began in Italy. I found my true passion amidst the tiny winding streets, jovial Romans stringing Italian words melodically through the air, in the open market of Campo dei Fiori. Imagine early morning, the Italian sun already strong and bright, lighting up the colorful produce as a visual spectrum. It was there, sitting at a cafe, watching life lived in a way that only Romans can do, that I had a taste of a cappuccino, and gasped (out loud). “What is this? This is not a cappuccino, this is heaven! Did someone spike this? Is my jet lag making me delirious?” It was smooth, perfection in a cup, unlike any cappuccino I ever had.
After a month in Italy and a nine hour flight, I stepped foot on American soil and felt a loss. Not only for that rich culture, that hot sun, those vespas whizzing by, but mostly for that coffee. I made it my mission, then and there, to understand, to take more care and be more discerning when I had my daily cup (or five). Why should I settle now, when I know what’s out there?
But it’s more than just a matter of taste. There’s much to be said about coming together over coffee. The Italians stay put for a while, there are no to-go cups there. They take that moment to enjoy, to chat with others, to sip. Even here in America, we meet for coffee to discuss our woes, our joys, our relationships — to share part of ourselves with others.
In Ethiopia, they have a rich coffee ceremony in which they invite their neighbors, friends, and visitors to show their warm hospitality. To be invited into this ceremony evokes great honor and respect. A major part of their culture relies on this, and they take great care in the preparation.
It is a universal way in which we connect. Through travel, I wish to explore this art and its various expressions, its ways in which it brings us pleasure and joy, its varieties and rituals. I wish to see the world through a coffee cup, a fresh perspective that can illuminate our commonalities and celebrate our differences.
Coffee enthusiasts, coffee shop owners, travelers, eaters, drinkers — come follow me on this journey.