It wasn't until I had arrived at the ripe age of 21 and got a job as a Starbucks barista that I began to have even a hint of appreciation for coffee in its unadulterated form. As part of the training process, every barista must complete a series of coffee tastings, and it was either man up or get another job. So I did it. But even then, I wouldn't drink coffee by choice. But I did work in a coffee shop and after being around it day in and day out, something had to break. My happy medium was the latte, and I found I could drink any amount of espresso as long as it was tamed with a little steamed milk.
College graduation closed the Starbucks chapter of my life, but left behind it some coffee-loving seeds, planted, but lying dormant. Five years have passed since my barista days at Starbucks, and gradually, almost imperceptibly, those seeds have been watered. It was a cup of coffee here and there when someone had a pot brewing, but nothing consistent. Then it was the purchase of our first small coffee maker for the house in case we wanted to make some when friends came over. Next came the occasional request for coffee when I was out, until I finally arrived at the conclusion that I am a coffee drinker. And what's more, I don't even drink it for the caffeine. I drink it because it has become something as enjoyable and relaxing as that mocha frappuccino of ages past.
Tonight I ordered my first after dinner cup of coffee at a restaurant, and drank two cups, black, with not a drop left. And with those two momentous cups came the realization that I am now officially a grown up.