The Best Part of Wakin’ Up (aka: Coffee Time!)

In the beginning, there was coffee. And the coffee was black and bitter. Then someone said, “Let there be cream!” And there was cream. And later, someone else discovered that sugar made coffee sweet and delicious. And thus, America’s favorite beverage came to be.

perfect cup of coffee

I discovered coffee when I was a ten year-old kid. Of course, back then, it meant a milked-down, over-sugared mug of Folgers or Maxwell House alongside my bowl of Wheaties each morning. Still, it was coffee! The best part of wakin’ up. Good to the last drop.

“You’ll stunt your growth,” my family members warned. I ignored them, sipping my hot drink, engrossed in a novel. They were mistaken, of course. Fast forward to the present, and I still engage in my daily cup of java, which didn’t hinder me from reaching a comfortable height of five-foot-six. The only difference between then and now, is that I’m less likely to drink good ol’ Maxwell House or Folgers, and more likely to sample a variety of roasts grown in different regions of the world. I’m also far more like to drink decaf. (I know — blasphemy!)

Keurig Green Mountain Inc. Product Illustrations Ahead Of Earnings Figures

It’s interesting how the way we drink coffee has changed over the last several decades. By the time I was in middle school, flavored creamers hit the stores. Coffee wasn’t coffee unless it was Amaretto or Irish Cream-flavored. Throughout high school, I went back to black. And then, during university, some friends invited me to a local coffee shop that changed my life: Java City. Suddenly, coffee was not merely coffee. Coffee was Espresso! Cappuccino! Mochas and Lattes! Fancy, exotic coffee drinks blended with foamy steamed milk, drizzled in chocolate or caramel.

Then Starbucks came along and chased the other coffee shops out of town with their ever-growing selection of mouthwatering caffeinated beverages. Despite the fact that a cup of Starbucks coffee costs the same as an entire family meal, hordes of people began to flock to the popular coffee shop for its hip, ultramodern decor; milkshake-like Frappuccinos, and most importantly, free wi-fi. Some might say that Starbucks is the reason behind the large uptick in U.S. coffee consumption that began around the turn of the century.

fancy starbucks coffee drinks

Some of the more recent trends in coffee-drinking are a little more puzzling to me. Cold brew? Seriously, peeps — now we’re paying $3 for a cup of cold coffee? Come over my house, and I’ll sell you a cup of the coffee I left sitting on the counter all day. I’m sure it’s nice and cold by now.

Cold Brew Coffee Trend

Luckily for the 62% of Americans who drink a daily cup of coffee (hot or cold brew), there’s great news. Coffee is good for us. No, really! This article by Medical News Today and this comprehensive study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine are chock-full of information about the benefits of drinking coffee, both caffeinated and decaffeinated (yes, decaf). That daily bean juice habit is connected with reduced risk of death from cancer, stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and then some. Other studies have proven additional health benefits from regular coffee-drinking, including reduced risk of certain types of cancers and improved liver health. (Not a single study proved that coffee results in stunted growth, by the way).

Folgers coffee old-fashioned

No matter how you brew it, one thing is clear: coffee is a worthwhile habit for most of us. So get those percolators popping! Get your Mr. Coffees dripping, your Keurigs Keuringging, and your cold brewers chilling your favorite gourmet, roasted, ground-up beans. After all these years, coffee is still the best part of wakin’ up, and even though our brewing methods and favorite flavors have changed, it’s still good to the last drop.

 

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Love, One Cup of Coffee at a Time

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I saw him as I was headed inside Starbucks. He was a young guy, maybe nineteen or twenty years old, sitting at one of the tables just outside the coffee shop. He was not holding a sign, or asking for money. He just sat there, staring out at the parking lot, his hands shoved into the pockets of his black hooded jacket. But the thing was–it was freezing outside. Seriously cold, with temps in the low 30s. What on earth was this young man doing out here, when he could be inside a toasty warm Starbucks, drinking hot coffee and thawing his cold hands?20111205-091325.jpg

He glanced at me as I walked past, and in that instant, I knew. He was hungry. And broke. And maybe had no warm place to go.

I paused in front of his table. “Hi. Could you use a hot cup of coffee?”

His face stretched into a wide grin. “Yeah. Thanks…that’d be great,” he said. I smiled back, then headed inside to order two Venti coffees, and one warm breakfast sandwich, which I also handed to the guy. He came inside for awhile to eat and drink in the warm shop, then headed back out into the cold. I wondered where he would go. I wondered where he would find his next meal. Most of all, I wondered where he would sleep tonight, when temperatures are again expected to plunge to the low 30s.

I am only an ordinary person. It’s not as though I can provide shelter for the homeless in my community, or hand out hot meals to every cold, hungry person I come across. But today, I kept my eyes open, and so I was able to provide a few moments of warmth and one meal to one person in need. And what if everyone did this? What if we all learned to keep our eyes open? What if, instead of rushing past, our minds focused on our own immediate comfort, we slowed down, and looked at the people around us? Maybe we will notice the hungry young men sitting quietly outside our coffee shops. Maybe we will take pity on the sign-holders, shivering in the cold winter air. Maybe we can learn to love our neighbors, one hot cup of coffee at a time.

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