Words by Taylor Wroblewski; illustrations by Maria Posato
My father ONCE SAID THAT drinking DECAF COFFEE IS LIKE TAKING A SHOWER While wearing A RAINCOAT: UTTERLY POINTLESS.
I faithfully followed his advice throughout my undergraduate career and took an oath to always drink regular, if not highly caffeinated, coffee. I am a newly appointed coffee drinker, my mom is a religious coffee drinker and my father is the ringleader of our coffee-drinking family.
We’re like a really small, energetic cult.
My father is the embodiment of coffee: strong, motivated, and energetic. Drinking coffee has become our favorite father-daughter pastime. When I come home from college, we’ll spend a couple hours in the morning solving the world’s problems, drinking coffee and lounging in our mismatched pjs. He’ll tell me about his latest marketing project, and I’ll exchange a story about my classmates. We’ll talk about the best way to cook a hamburger and the differences between craft beers. We’ll discuss politics, Dancing with the Stars, and football. He’ll tell me about Chip Kelly’s controversial move to the 49ers and I’ll tell him about the newest recipe I found on Pinterest.
A few years ago, my father asked me to talk. He did not have a cup of coffee in his hand - rather, he had a box of tissues and red, flushed cheeks.
Our conversation that day was not about Reagan’s presidency. It was not about the easiest way to peel a hard-boiled egg, nor was it about Genny’s oldest brew. It was not about his newfound love for tequila shots or how many pounds he bench-pressed at the gym.
We sat on our back porch, in the sweltering heat of late-June, and discussed his clogged artery. He told me that my mom’s happiness is dependent upon dark chocolate M&Ms, late-night laughing sessions and Gilmore Girls marathons.
There is something innately special about my father. I’ve seen him get angry, I’ve seen him get sad, I’ve seen some of his greatest moments and I’ve seen some of his low points. He consistently finds something positive in each day, which is something I’ve greatly admired about him my whole life. His positive outlook is fueled by caffeine, but I also believe he is a genuine optimist who tackles each day with the boldness of a freshly brewed pot of coffee.
After his successful surgery, our coffee dates were even sweeter.
* * *
I climb into Halle’s car and look at the crime scene beneath my feet: plastic cups with unmistakably bright pink and orange straws covered the floor.
“Dunkin’?” she says, as we furiously pull out of the parking lot. I nod as I quickly reloaded my Dunkin’ Donuts app, distracted by the bounty of free drink coupons and new deals automatically uploading to my device.
My friend Halle Cook wasn’t always a coffee drinker. She first started drinking coffee because I persuaded her to accompany me on a mid-afternoon trip to Starbucks. Eventually, she was a self-proclaimed addict who frequented the drive-thru Dunkin’ Donuts on Monroe Avenue during her morning commute.
(Let’s face it: Coffee needed her as much as she needed coffee.)
I’d receive phone calls from her in the late afternoon like clockwork, “Hey, do you want to get coffee? Do you want to go to Glen Edith? How about Joe Bean?” The struggle between visiting major chains and local coffee stands became a daily debate. Our decision was usually dependent on our mood, the weather, and our wallets.
Glen Edith Coffee Roasters, Spot Coffee, Mellow Mug and Cafe Sasso are just a few of Halle’s favorite places in downtown Rochester. But Glen Edith on Elton Street, formerly Upper Crust, is probably her most beloved caffeinated escape in the area.
It became somewhat of a monotonous after-school ritual. We would meet on campus, then head to Upper Crust for cupcakes, coffee and free samples. It became so routine that the baristas started to play "I’ll Be There For You" by the Rembrandts every time we walked in (a definitive nod to Friends and Central Perk).
These afternoon coffee trips were more than just a way to fulfill a desperate need for motivation and energy; they built the foundation for a friendship that helped me through the triumphs and tribulations of senior year.
Halle moved to Syracuse in June for graduate school. Her determination to succeed and constant caffeine intake continues to steer her in the right direction (most likely towards Chicago or LA). She’s going to be the next Tina Fey, it’s inevitable.
I’m confident that our mutual love for coffee transcends the many miles between us. She receives multiple phone calls from me venting about graduate school, telling her how much I miss her and planning our next visit. No matter where we go, we’ll always be talking over a cup of coffee.
Personally, I think happiness is linked to the friends you drink coffee with, and the stories you exchange across the table. For me, coffee is not just my favorite beverage, but it’s the way in which I bond with my father, and the foundation of a lifelong friendship. It’s the glue that holds us together and it’s a huge part of the stories I have yet to tell.