I enjoy coffee because it always tastes different. When I was six, it tasted like love. It was my mom and dad’s warm lips pressing into my forehead. Every single morning, my dad would brew a pot of coffee. Two mugs were always set aside. I wanted my Disney mug to be besides theirs.
When I was 9, it tasted like rebellion. It was me sneaking a sip of that warm and delectable beverage on Christmas Eve. I only had a couple of sips before my mom came into the kitchen. Santa was going to skip our house that night, I was almost certain. I tossed and turned , wished and prayed to doze of into slumber, although the caffeine had different plans for me.
When I was 11, it tasted like moth-balls. I’d run down the steps to my Nonnas every morning before school and the lingering smell of coffee and diluted moth-balls always engulfed her apartment. When she spoke to me, I can almost taste the rich black coffee off of her breath. I wanted my breath to smell like coffee.
When I was fourteen it tasted like maturity, even though I just mixed an instant hot chocolate packet into a cup of Folgers every morning before school. I would sit quietly alone downstairs before anyone else woke up, and drink it. I felt like an adult, and for the only time in my life, I enjoyed that feeling. (To this day I don’t like the taste of hot chocolate because it always seems to be lacking something.)
At fifteen, coffee tasted like Waffle House and shots of those little half & halfs; laced up sneakers, and my last name plastered on my back, coffee tasted like my first travel basketball game. It tasted like winning.
At sixteen, it tasted like creamy hazelnut, and the smoggy air of Bayonne. It was not being cool enough in school, too many hormones, and my face breaking out. Coffee kept my hands warm that night at the football game when i was left alone.
When I was eighteen i thought coffee tasted the Broadway Diner, or that little shop across town that went out of business. It tasted like pumpkin pie spice and skim milk and foam. It tasted like friends getting kicked out of their homes, ditching school, marijuana and driving with the windows down.
At nineteen coffee tasted like morning, and mourning. It tasted like peppermint and honey and colored leaves on a wet patio. It tasted like loneliness and hangovers and different lies on different days. It still tasted optional, like a hat I could take off.
At twenty-one, it tastes like breakfast. I have a cup every morning upon waking and if i don’t i get a terrible lack-of-caffeine headache. It tastes like Dunkin donuts on my way to class and my professors breath as he lectures the class. It tastes like Houlihans, of me pouring cups and cups of cheap coffee for all of my guests in need of a warm caffeinated beverage. It tastes like comfort, of driving around town with my friends.
Years later, and I sleep all day if I don’t drink it. Half of the time I don’t even think to taste it.