May Your Coffee Kick In Before Your Reality Does


Coffee: a drink that has become an integral part of the human experience. Every culture, without fail, has its own traditional way of enjoying coffee. From espresso to iced, with a dollop of whip cream, people across the world cozy up against fogged windows, clutching a steaming cup of joe in their hands as the weather gets colder and the sky becomes drearier.

But have you ever wondered why some people turn their noses up at frappuccinos while still considering themselves ~unique~ for indulging in an affogato, even though they are essentially the same thing? More than 64% of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee every day, according to a survey conducted by Reuters. Coffee has become a staple in our daily routines. Whether we drink it for the wake-up call, the taste, or simply for the pure aesthetic, Americans run on coffee. And yet, despite its universal appeal, there are those who insist that a large majority of coffee drinkers simply don’t “get” coffee.

In recent years, there has been a surge in demand for so-called gourmet coffee. It seems that the token generation accused of pretension — millennials — are driving this trend. In fact, almost 50% of millennials surveyed by Reuters claimed to have enjoyed a gourmet cup of coffee the day before. Perhaps this push towards gourmet coffee can be traced back to the establishment of Starbucks in 1971. Nowadays, admitting that you enjoy Starbucks in Seattle is like wearing a scarlet letter, a betrayal of the local hipster coffee shops. These sentiments can be observed across the country.

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In Kansas City, there is a shop called Oddly Correct Coffee Bar that is considered by many foodies to be one of the top cafes in the United States. As part of the “third wave” coffee movement, which prides itself on rejecting flavors, sugar, and cream, Oddly Correct lives by the philosophy that customers don’t actually know what they want to drink and that the hipster sporting a Carhartt beanie will guide them in their coffee choices. Similarly, in Ann Arbor, visitors to the town’s local coffee shops often encounter similar experiences.

I once found myself in a local coffee shop, looking for coffee grounds, when I asked a shop employee if they recommended a particular roast for iced coffee. After providing their recommendation, they added, “but it shouldn’t be used for frappuccinos or whatever.” Maybe it was my mistake for trusting a notoriously snobby shop with my questions, or maybe it was because I was a young woman, but the implication was clear: my delicate taste buds could not handle anything other than a sickeningly sweet frappuccino (which, by the way, are delicious). This exchange perfectly illustrates the problem with coffee snobs and their insistence that anyone who drinks anything other than a pourover black coffee is a phony.

As a young woman, walking into any “indie” store can instantly trigger insecurities. Just last week, I was in a record store when I overheard two men behind the counter asking if they had received any new Taylor Swift CDs. Do I love Taylor Swift? Absolutely. But I don’t need strangers making assumptions about my musical preferences while I’m trying to support their store. It’s not a serious offense, but it adds an unnecessary layer of self-consciousness that women often experience throughout their day. We shouldn’t have to “prove” ourselves to strangers when we’re giving them our money. Those tween girls buying frappuccinos are just as much customers as the businessmen ordering a plain dark roast. Their money is equally valuable.

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If I’m going to drink something every day, I want to enjoy it. Sometimes that means black coffee, but other times it means indulging in a caramel brulee latte with extra whip and sprinkles. Coffee has become as common as water, but do we judge someone for getting their water from the tap instead of a Brita filter? No! And do we feel the need to explain the nuances between a flat white and a latte to someone? Certainly not. Life is too short to force ourselves to drink black coffee every day when gingerbread lattes exist. So, hold your head up high and go order that pumpkin cream cold brew before it’s too late. I promise, I won’t judge you.

Daily Arts Columnist Samantha Della Fera can be reached at Marmalade Cafe