Coffee and me


Every so often, I feel moved to blog about coffee. The hearty brew is a daily part of my life. Today I consume coffee for a variety of reasons. Its caffeinated punch (no decaf for me, thank you), aroma, and taste all count for me. Plus, there’s something about the aesthetics of being a coffee drinker that appeals to me.

I was a latecomer to the coffee thang. I didn’t drink it regularly until my mid-thirties, and it’s no mere coincidence that I became a tenure-track faculty member around then! That late night cup (or two)  helped me get through a lot of heavy-duty initial class preps and exam grading.

But I’m not exactly a coffee connoisseur  — while a fresh, organic blend is always nice, in a pinch I’m happy to swill whatever is served at local convenience stores.

Home and office

At home, most of my coffee comes from the City Feed and Supply store in my Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain. They sell assorted blends of Equal Exchange fair trade, organic coffee, all of which brew up nicely in my ordinary drip coffee maker.

I don’t know whether this is a good thing or not, but I’ve reached a point where I can enjoy coffee well into the evening hours and experience the caffeine kick, without being rendered an insomniac for the night.

At work, a couple of years ago I bought a Keurig coffee maker for our office suite, and I usually pop in a K-cup every day. It’s not as good as the homebrewed stuff, but it’s fast, convenient, and relatively inexpensive.

Café culture

One might think that my job as an academic affords plenty of opportunities to work or relax in cafés and coffeehouses, but I’ve found that to be illusory when meetings and other obligations pile up. Still, I want to make more time for this. I can be quite productive in such settings, with my laptop or iPad in front of me and some coffee and a morsel on the side.

Until I read this piece about the history of Boston’s café culture by Magda Romanska, I had no idea that the city enjoyed such a rich history with coffee and coffeehouses. Here are a few snippets:

  • “Although the first man known to bring knowledge of coffee to North America was Captain John Smith in 1607, who was familiar with coffee, thanks to his travels in Turkey, the first-ever coffeehouse in America was actually opened in Boston by John Sparry. As Boston city records indicate, in October 1676 John Sparry was ‘aproued of by the select men to keepe a publique house for sellinge of Coffee.’”
  • “Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Boston was the metropolis of the Massachusetts Colony and the social center of New England, so it is no surprise that the most prominent coffeehouses were established here in Boston.”
  • “The Boston Tea Party of 1773 was planned in one such coffeehouse, the Green Dragon, known by historians as the ‘Headquarters of the Revolution.’ Located at that time on Union Street in Boston’s North End, the Green Dragon was a meeting place for the Freemasons, who used the first floor. The Green Dragon’s basement was used by several secret Revolutionary groups.”

Pretty cool, huh?

I’ve got no grand insights here. I’ve noticed a lot of Facebook postings about coffee lately, and apparently they rubbed off on me. Time for a refill.

4 responses

  1. Dave: I’m more of a late arrival to the coffee craze than you are – I just started about 6 months ago! Now I rely on my black coffee to get me going in the morning and occasionally to give me a lift in the afternoon. I used to be a Mountain Dew addict but kicked that a couple of years ago. Anyway, I like my coffee with some honey mixed in – an idea that I stole from the final scene in “Before Sunset”.

    1. Don, during our visits I’d become accustomed to your Dew habit! I used to drink either Pepsi or Snapple iced tea in the a.m. before I switched to coffee. (Egad, that’s a megaton of sugar between us.)

  2. I understand the love of the bean. I was a steady medium roast kind of gal till my husband “made” me drink Starbucks. Now I get that it’s a bit snobbish, but I really enjoy their french roast which is my favorite. I’m a two cup a day, in college was a minimum of 4; needless to say I was really efficient.

    1. Thanks for your comment! I never understood the draw of coffee during college and law school, but now I get it when I see a student lugging around a silo sized thermos of coffee, at my school usually refilled at the Dunkin’ Donuts a few doors away.

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