Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My story of addiction

I admit it. I am an addict. I don't believe my addiction is a problem, I don't want a 12 step program and I don't want to stop using. But, I am, in fact, an addict. I am addicted to coffee and I have been for many years. This morning when I was at Starbucks, waiting for my venti iced soy latte and thinking about how it was the best part of my day, I realized it is my addiction. This is my story.

Growing up, my dad smoked and drank coffee...lots and lots of coffee. It never appealed to me and I never really gave it any thought. Its not like now where there is a coffee place on every corner and teenagers live on frappachinos and mocha lattes.

I believe it was the summer between my freshman and sophmore years in college. My mom and I were making the cross country trip from New Jersey to Boulder, Colorado. We stopped at my grandfather's house in Illinois. His wife, Gail, had been to Seattle recently and was telling us about the big new craze there - coffee lattes. She said there were stands all over the place where they made these drinks with coffee and steamed milk. I didn't know what the big deal was with that. I didn't even like coffee.

That year, while at college in Boulder, I had an office job. My boss would send me to get coffees for the people I worked with. They'd get things like raspberry mochas and vanilla lattes. My boss would always say "I buy, you fly"...meaning he would buy my drink and I would drive to go get it. I would get a coffee drink and I wasn't really impressed with it...but if someone else was buying, why would I NOT get one.

We did this several times a week and eventually I started to like the way these drinks tasted. I started getting a coffee on my way to school and on the weekends. There was a great little locally owned place called Vic's coffee. It was right next to Moe's bagels - perhaps the best bagel place in the world. Every morning I would stop and get a bagel and then go next door to get a coffee. I remember how warm and humid it was in Vic's and how it smelled like burnt coffee.

I lived about a block away and spent way more time that I should have at these places. I always saw people I knew and I really enjoyed my daily routine.

I graduated college and after a year working an office job, I got a job at the Boulder Daily Camera - the local newspaper. This was when my coffee addiction really took hold. I work 2 am to 10 am every day. There were a few little coffee shops right around the paper. I'd go to one of them every day. Sometimes twice a day.

After about a year, I got promoted and worked a little more normal schedule. By this time, I was a smoker. I had moved across town to an apartment that was a block away from the another Vic's coffee. I would stop there every morning and get my vanilla latte and drive the long way to work. That gave me enough time to smoke two cigarettes and enjoy my latte. That was the best part of my day.

By this time, Starbucks was just starting to make its move. There were a couple locations that popped up here and there. While I still loved the local shops, there was something flashy and new about Starbucks. There was a location right by a house where I regularly house sat. Up until this point, the largest size drink they had was 16 ounces. I remember the day the unveiled the venti - 20 ounces. Oh Dear God, that was one of the best days of my life. If 16 ounces was good...then 20 ounces was even BETTER!!!

There was another chain of coffee shops called Peaberry's.

I would have to say that their Vanilla Latte is to date, the best coffee drink I have ever had. It was so smooth and sweet and creamy. Yummy!!! I don't know why I didn't go there all the time, I guess it was out of the way.

Shortly after that, I got a job in New Jersey and was set to move. My dad got online and found where the closet Starbucks was! When I got settled into my new home, in a new town, I drove 20 minutes out of my way every morning to get a coffee at Starbucks. Vanilla latte. Venti. After a year there, I got a job in Portland Oregon - the mecca of coffee shops. I had no idea until I got there just how bad it was.

In Portland, there is a coffee shop on every corner. Literally. From my office building, you could walk in any direction and there would be a Starbucks. There were at least 10 of them within a couple blocks and they were all busy, all the time.

Getting coffee was always the highlight of my day. My coworkers and I would say to each other "want to go get a coffee?" We'd do it before the Monday meeting, we'd do it on Wednesday mornings. I would meet Trevor's dad, Jay, at the Starbucks in Beaverton damn near every morning for coffee. That is where he came up with the idea that I should meet Trevor.

On my first date with Trevor, we stopped at Starbucks on the way to his parents house. When I moved in with Trevor, we'd have breakfast every morning at the Starbucks in Battle Ground. That was our routine for many years, until our jobs changed. Once I started working in a different department at the paper, coffee breaks for the only sane part of my day. My friend Diane and I would email each other: "coffee"...."10 minutes"...."let's go!!!". We'd walk across the street where I would get my soy latte and she would get her iced teas. They new us by name and by drink. We didn't even have to order. They just knew.

If I needed to meet with someone, we went to Starbucks. In the afternoons, we'd go get another coffee or an iced drink or a muffin or cookie. Just something, to get out of the office and into the comfort of Starbucks. Some of my best memories are from times spent there.

I have had a latte or coffee drink of some sort just about every single day since 1997. There was one vacation in Jamaica where there was no coffee shop and regular coffee at breakfast had to do. But that is really the only time we didn't have it. Even on our trip to China, we found a Starbucks. During marathons and triathlons, all I can do is think about how much I want a latte when we are done. I remember during my first half Ironman, all I wanted was to finish so we could stop and get a latte on the way back to the hotel. Ironman, well, that day we finished too late to get a coffee. But I had one the day before and the day after!!

Figure, on average, $4 per day (give or take). That's $1460 per year, for 14 years....$20,440 over my life on coffee. My dad used to say that I could drive a mercedez if I kicked my coffee habit.

I've been on diets and have always said that if I had to get rid of my daily latte, I wouldn't do it. When money has been tight, I refused to give up my daily lattes. I would scrounge for change in my drawers and Trevor's desk to have enough money to make my daily stop.

Seriously...it is the best part of my day. Every day. Something comforting about holding that drink in my hand - hot in the winter, cold in the summer. I've tried to stop before, but I don't really want to, so it doesn't work. I feel like every day, all the good memories that I have of the past are served up to me in my coffee cup. And that is something I enjoy immensely. So, here's to another decade of lattes....I'm just waiting for them to come out with something bigger than the 20 ounce size!!!

1 comment:

Tina said...

I could have written this, without all of the moving around of course! I've been frequenting my local coffee shop since it opened 5years ago. Best lattes ever. I get a large, skim, truffle latte, which is 78% dark chocolate from Ecuador with steamed milk and espresso. Best thing I have ever tasted. Like you, I get it everyday. They know me because when I walk they say "make Tina's drink". If you are ever in the area again, I'm taking you there. ;)