Sunday, January 18, 2009

Moving to Seattle = Learning to Like Coffee

I used to hate all things coffee. I didn't like coffee-flavored ice cream. Tiramisu was not yummy to me because of the layers dipped in espresso. Considering that those items semi-grossed me out, you can imagine my aversion to the actual beverages made of coffee. I do admit that I felt a little uncomfortable moving to the Seattle area, inventor of Starbucks and Seattle's Best Coffee, without liking coffee. I felt like an impostor and outsider. Oh, I would fake it. In Starbucks I ordered chai, hot chocolate, and hot apple cider. Luckily they put these drinks in the same cups as the coffee drinks. So I could pull off the look of being a coffee-drinker. But inside I felt like a fraud. I was ashamed of my immature taste buds.

I held out hope that one day though I'd be able to ease into liking coffee. (Much like wine. I started out in college with Arbor Mist (yuck!), moved to sweet white then dry white wines, and in the past two years I've really come to prefer reds. It's a gradual growing up and getting used to the taste process.) So I would sometimes try a sip of Robb's coffee drinks or try a free sample that Starbucks baristas would pass around. And then this winter it happened. Last Christmas I would drink Starbucks' peppermint hot chocolate. This Christmas I became obsessed with Starbucks' peppermint mocha. I perfected my drink: a tall, non-fat peppermint mocha, with regular whip cream - not the peppermint flavored whip cream. (Some people say why have non-fat if you're just going to add the whip cream? I say, every little bit of non-fat helps. I like the whip cream to cool the drink down and add a little extra sweetness to the coffee.) Not only did I enjoy the coffee flavor, but I also liked the extra boost of caffeine I got. I think there's more caffeine in these drinks that my once-a-day Diet Mt. Dew.

So now that Christmas is over, I have to move beyond the peppermint mochas. I've tried a white chocolate mocha (not a fan of white chocolate), a pumpkin spice latte (pretty good, but also seasonal), a caramel macchiato (not bad), and have discovered my non-seasonal favorite: a tall, non-fat cinnamon dolce latte, with whip cream.

So a year and a half after moving to Washington, I can now drink and enjoy fairly sweet coffee drinks. Now, just like the locals, I have to figure out how to limit my Starbucks habit so I don't spend all my money on overpriced coffee. If my evolutionary wine habits are any indication, I'll be drinking black coffee in no time which means I'll be able to drink coffee at home. But, in the meantime, I support Starbucks the way you are meant to support Starbucks -- through coffee. My next task is to start trying some local coffee places and see if I can handle something outside of the Starbucks realm.

Since I didn't grow up here, I know I'll never be a native. But I love to celebrate those moments when you get one step closer to faking native status.

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