How Do You Take Your Coffee?

In high school, I worked in a retirement home in the food service department. Boring, you say? Oh no. The whole team was in high school and we had a blast. We would hoard all of the meals of people who didn’t show up for dinner, and gorge ourselves on side dishes and desserts in the back room. It was like a hungry high school kid’s dream. (And yes, I was hungry. Always hungry).

One thing I couldn’t figure out when I worked there was why the retirement home residents were so particular about how they “took” their coffee. They would get so annoyed with me if I didn’t get them the exact amount of cream or sugar. I have many a memory of an old man yelling “Nooooo sweetheart I want THREE sugars! THREE!” This, of course, was before I became a coffee lover myself, so I really didn’t get it. What was the big deal?

Not long after college, Starbucks hooked me with their frappuccinos, which turned into caramel macchiatos, which turned into hazelnut lattes, which is now just an all around coffee obsession. I am not alone in this- if there is one thing I know, it is that people LOVE their coffee and aren’t afraid to show it. When Matt and I went to see Seinfeld a few months back, he discussed the psychology of coffee:

You don’t “drink” your coffee. You “have” your coffee. It defines you. You don’t just order a drink, you state who you are. “I am a grande soy latte two pump white mocha” girl. See?

My coffee drinking has certainly evolved over the years. Here are some of the things I have put in my coffee, some I am proud of, some not so much.

Powdered cream, White Sugar, Cane Sugar, Raw Sugar, Splenda, Sweet n’ Low, Honey, Agave Nectar, CoffeeMate (liquid), CoffeeMate (powdered), International Delight, Non-Dairy Hazelnut Creamer, Torani flavorings, Half and Half, Almond Milk, Soy Milk, Regular 2% Milk, Mini Moos, and lately, Kerrygold Grass-Fed Butter, and Coconut Oil.

I’ve also noticed that there are certain types of coffee drinkers:

Gas station/McDonald’s/any fast food chain coffee drinkers. Better known as sad, desperate swill drinkers to the rest of us.

Folgers and Maxwell House diehards. You will never convince them that any coffee tastes better. Ever. And they will take that with a swig of powdered CoffeeMate, please.

Starbucks fiends. This makes up the majority of the coffee loving universe.

Local coffee nazis. These folks will go out of their way to avoid a Starbucks. It is equivalent in their mind to shopping at Wal Mart.

Organic and sustainable coffee connoisseurs. These folks are committed to their non-toxic coffee. They will stick it to the man and help out the environment whenever possible, what better way than with their favorite hot beverage?

The “let’s make a difference” coffee drinkers. These folks often go hand in hand with the above group, and want to make sure that they are not only enjoying their superior coffee, but that someone’s life is being improved with every sip.

The DIYers– these people have decided that they don’t need a barista. They ARE the barista. They have purchased every coffee gadget imaginable, and will whip up an extraordinary drink for you in two shakes. You want to be friends with one of these people.

The ultra obsessed/scientific brewer– these individuals are already wicked smart, and apply their genius to their love of coffee. You will find them researching the best brewing methods, ordering items that look like science lab equipment or water bongs, and telling you about their latest technique for the “perfect cup”.

Can you identify which category you might fall into? I am in at least a few. And most importantly, I would love to know: How do you take your coffee these days?


  1. says

    I am definitely a “let’s make a diference” coffee drinker! I have been researching coffee beans, strengths, grinding, flavors, macho, lacho hatcho since I was in my early twenties….which was a very long time ago, since I am now 61. I became a “coffee snob” for awhile, but what I must insist on is “non-burned, rich medium dark with a non-acid aftertaste. What works best for me is Gold Mountain Swiss Chocolate Almond. Just right! It’s mellow, with a soft nutty aftertaste , with just a hint of something you might think of as chocolate. I have used only Krups coffee makers for over 40 years. I feel like I was one of the “original” coffee investigators, because when I was 20, almost everybody drank Maxwell house, and never gave it a second thought…Can You Imagine??? Thanks for the post Hil, I wish we could have these conversations in person. I love you guys!!!!

    • hilarybarnett says

      Linda, I love it! I did not know this about you… that is awesome that you were a “pioneer” into a “superior coffee experience” when everyone was still chugging down Maxwell House, ha! Can’t wait to drink some coffee with you at Christmas!

  2. says

    I love Starbucks when I’m out (mostly because the quality is fairly reliable and I know they treat their employees relatively well compared to most – so it’s not like Wal-Mart to me! ;) Ha.), but I’m all about fair-trade, organic, shade-grown Sumatran coffee beans at home. With a French press.

    We’ve had a sticker on our fridge forever that says, “What would Jesus brew?” that I got at a fair trade sale. We got tired of waste created by buying Trader Joe’s fair trade coffee in canisters and looked up the website listed on the sticker – Dean’s Beans is the BOMB and we will be lifelong customers, I think!! :)

    Also, I put cream and a small spoonful of fair trade raw sugar in my coffee. I am not perfect about fair trade everything, but it’s so easy to do with coffee, that I figure I have to!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *