I love coffee. I enjoy the actual beverage itself (hot and cold) and I cherish the rituals and routines of making my own coffee. I especially enjoy meeting other people over coffee and I have spent many hours of my life happily ensconced in lingering conversations over a cup of joe.
I have a long relationship with coffee, although I did not grow up in a household that brewed coffee or owned a percolator. My mother was a fan of instant coffee: boiling hot water poured over freeze-dried coffee crystals. She drank it black: Taster’s Choice in the morning and decaffeinated Sanka in the evening. My father’s first cup of the day was at the office, but he was the one who taught me that if you poured the milk in first, and then added the coffee, you didn’t need a spoon to stir. My daily coffee habit began in college, in 6-ounce, ceramic dining hall coffee cups. Regular or Decaf were the only options back then; there was no such thing as fancy espresso coffee drinks in school dining halls.
While I will drink any kind of coffee when offered, I like to be picky when I am home and can make my own. I will mix whole coffee beans, dark espresso roast and mild breakfast blend, and pour them into my coffee maker to grind. While it is brewing, I will grab my favorite mug, heat up a few ounces of 2% milk in the microwave for 40 seconds, add a packet of Splenda and then (with eternal gratitude to my high school friend Ann Lindgren for this life-changing gift) insert my Aerolatte milk foamer into the mug for about 10 seconds to froth the milk. I then gently add the coffee, twisting my wrist to swirl the stream, and fill it to the brim. Perfection.
Interesting to note that the very first package ever delivered to our St. Petersburg home was a new coffee maker. It was delivered via Amazon in mid-June, while I was literally in the midst of meeting with Board Chair Beth Vivio, as we sat socially distanced on my front porch, getting to know one another.
I’ve always enjoyed doing work in a café with a cup of coffee at hand. Whether I was grading AP US history papers at the Double Rainbow in Albuquerque, New Mexico; brushing up on my math skills with a finance problem set for business school at the Unicorn Cafe in Evanston, Illinois; or reading Admissions files at Quartermaine’s in Bethesda, Maryland; I like the aroma and atmosphere which can be found in a coffee house. The background of white noise is comforting, and sometimes during a lull in my work I would take a break to eavesdrop on the conversations going on around me.
I like meeting other people for coffee as well. Often, it’s the time I set aside for friends, an opportunity for us to catch up during our busy lives. When I worked at a boarding school, it was my advisees who would text me to ask, “Ms. Spencer, when can we do a Starbucks run?” Countless hours were spent with these students over coffee or other beverages, as they filled me in on their schoolwork, friends, and the drama that was going on in their lives. For many years, I conducted college alumni interviews at a local coffee store. From the moment I walked in, I could always tell who the candidates were, high school seniors sitting alone at a table, a little nervous, often with a resume in hand.
These days, I am a real store-straddler in terms of where I buy my cup of coffee. Sometimes I will stop at Pineapple Expresso or Kahwa on my way to Shorecrest. I have the Starbucks app on my phone and will head over to one of two Fourth Street stores with my favorite order already pulled up. I am also a fan of the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through. I am especially pleased that I was able to impress New England native School Nurse Conroy with my ability to order in DD lingo (“Large, hot, original with 7 milk and 1 Splenda.” $2.56).
However you take your coffee - or if you prefer another beverage, or none at all - I hope that you will stop by on Saturday morning, February 20, as I am hosting a Carline Coffee from 9-11am. It’s a chance to say hello, catch up and chat in-person. I look forward to greeting everyone and you can bet that I will have my coffee mug by my side.
All the best,