Our theme for the month of February is “plants.”

My relationship with the coffee plant has been one of admiration and hatred, productivity and anxiety. When I started drinking coffee in my senior year of high school, about seven years ago, I voiced very few coffee preferences or opinions. In honesty, I preferred my cup with a little cream and a decent amount of sugar, but being a male high school hockey player fully enmeshed in the performative masculinity this entailed, I would have never admitted this preference. 

About a year later, a freshman at Calvin, I found myself holding three jobs, playing college hockey, frequently visiting my dying grandfather, and busting my butt for the elusive 4.0 GPA. Coffee was simply required to achieve any semblance of equilibrium. I became a stuck-up coffee nerd, with a preference for black cups with fancy (fair trade) roast names from foreign countries. At one point, I was able to distinguish by taste light, medium, and dark roasts—and between arabica and robusta beans—with relatively impressive success; there were even a few brands I could identify from each other. 

But this was also me at my most unhealthy. To compensate for the workaholism of an aspiring academic, I was drinking somewhere between five and ten cups a day. I distinctly remember drinking an entire pot one night. After coming into conflict with my workload-caffeine mortality a few times, through frequent myokymia and some other mental health and medical issues, I knew coffee’s roots in my life were a little strong. I cut back—and over time, my palate became less “coffee elitist” and more populist. Two years later, I even tried instant coffee. 

Now, I like to think I’m just a normal coffee consumer, even if I still drink more coffee than my doctor (or mom) would like. I no longer frequent coffee shops. Boston is too expensive for that. I do have the Panera coffee membership ($9 a month)—something I would have shuddered at in an earlier stage of life. I drink almost all my coffee with creamer, no longer feeling the performative pressure to drink it black. The only exception is my new favorite, turkish coffee, which I drink orta şekerli, or with a little sugar. I don’t indulge myself with the fancy cups all that often anymore, but since I’m studying Turkish, recently traveled to Tbilisi, Georgia, and the closest non-Dunkin coffeehouse to my apartment is a Turkish place called Coffee Turco—it’s been my go-to “treat yourself” drink. 

Here’s the timeline of my evolving coffee palate: 

Senior Year of High School (Year 1)
Favorite roast: aren’t they all the same?
Daily intake: only old people drink daily coffee?
Go-to coffee place: Starbucks

Calvin College (Years 2–4)
Favorite roast: Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Kochere
Daily intake: 5–10 cups
Go-to coffee place: The Bitter End

Calvin University (Year 5)
Favorite roast: light roast
Daily intake: about 4 cups
Go-to coffee place: the Rhetoric Center (…yes, we had our own coffee machine)

Graduate School and First Year of Covid (Year 6)
Favorite roast: Anything iced with lots of sugar
Daily intake: about 3 cups
Go-to Coffee Place: Dunkin Donuts 

A Continuation of 2020 in 2022 (Year 7)
Favorite roast: Folgers House Blend / Turkish coffee
Daily intake: about 2 cups
Go-to Coffee Place: Panera


Photo courtesy Flickr user Marco Verch Professional Photographer (CC BY 2.0)


  1. Laura Sheppard Song

    I love how our preferences and habits can be tracked across different life phases. I appreciate that you’ve learned to embrace what you like without the performance! That said, Ethiopia Yrgacheffe and Turkish coffee are amazing – I’m jealous that you have access to a Turkish spot so close to you 🙂

  2. Alex Johnson

    My one regret of college: never having any of the famed RC coffee that we /totally/ offered to clients


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