Opinion — My complicated relationship with coffee


Hannah Jenkins/NW

COFFEE COMPLICATIONS — How do you reconcile loving coffee with also hating it? My relationship with this beverage is now more complicated than ever.

Hannah Jenkins, Copy Editor

I hate coffee. 

I am also trying to curb my growing addiction to it. Like a relationship with a toxic guy that you know you should avoid but just cannot; my love of – or obsession with – coffee is getting serious.

Now, compared to coffee purists or lifelong devotees, I am an amateur in this arena. I only started drinking coffee semi-regularly this first semester of my sophomore year in college. And even now, I crave the sugary goodness — not the caffeine buzz — that the drink can be loaded with.

I make no claims about being a coffee connoisseur, or the kind of person who searches out the most niche local shops to try the most exotic roasts. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I am just not very “cultured” in that respect.

You will most likely find me at the nearest Starbucks ordering something like a caramel macchiato, my latest sugar-laden coffee drink of choice.

Every now and then, I venture out to one of the many local coffee shops in Marquette, such as Contrast Coffee or 231 West Patisserie. Even there, you will not catch me drinking black coffee.

When I stop and think about it, coffee has actually played a relatively small but sentimentally valuable role in my life.

I have fond memories of my paternal grandparents visiting me and my family, and they would always bring along their thermoses of coffee. Growing up with parents who did not drink coffee, this habit seemed strange to me. 

My first personal encounter with coffee occurred when I turned 13. My parents said I could try coffee now that I was a teenager, as sort of a rite of passage.

They wanted me to have an “authentic” experience, so they made me drink it black. I was utterly disgusted by the bitter, dirt-flavored beverage, and that cup of coffee brewed from frozen Folgers grounds deterred me for many years.

In tenth grade – I think – I went with other high school students from my school to the Marquette YMCA for a field-trip type excursion. My friends and I ended up in the lobby by the coffee machine for some reason. Still in the phase where I would not touch coffee, I dumped powdered creamer into a Styrofoam cup and added water to make a sickeningly sweet concoction. 

Shortly after downing it, I found myself giddy and laughing uncontrollably, much to my friends’ amusement. I was sick to my stomach for the next day or so, and even the thought of my creamer-water mixture made me feel ill.

I learned my lesson from that interesting experience, and I now opt for some coffee to go with my sweeteners.

I remember my paternal grandpa once saying something along the lines of, “I don’t know why I drink coffee. I don’t actually like it, even with cream and sugar. Maybe it’s a kind of penance.”

This sentiment struck me as funny then, and it comes to mind now as I ponder my coffee dilemma. Maybe I inherited my simultaneous love and hate of coffee from my grandpa. Honestly though, it is more likely that I am just addicted to sugar, which comes in large, convenient quantities in many coffee drinks.

And who knows? Maybe someday I will become a “sophisticated” coffee drinker and insist on only drinking ultra-dark roast from Columbia or something like that, but I doubt it.

Editor’s Note: The North Wind is committed to offering a free and open public forum of ideas, publishing a wide range of viewpoints to accurately represent the NMU student body. This is a staff column, written by an employee of the North Wind. As such, it expresses the personal opinions of the individual writer, and does not necessarily reflect the position of the North Wind Editorial Board.