Where Do You Get Your Daily Cup of Coffee?

Paper coffee cups with lids

The short story is that you have purchased your first home coffee machine.

It is adorable.

The long story is that you have been in love with local coffee shops for nearly two decades. Everything from the wooden stir sticks to the environmentally friendly custom paper coffee cups, the daily money that you have spent on your favorite coffee drinks from the local shops has been a part of your monthly budget that you were certain you would never give up.

Your obsession with local coffee shops started with your weekly visits with your best friend when you were living in Mexico. You would go to the local coffee shop for free wifi, free air conditioning, and to eavesdrop on Mexican couples and business partners talk about their own home lives. You were lesson planning for the high school classes that you were teaching and dreaming of having the lives that the other coffee drinkers had already achieved. You loved both the purpose and the feel of the wooden stir sticks. You knew they were better for the environment than the plastic versions that are so other used at the big box coffee retailers.
Seven months into teaching abroad, you first saw your son’s dad. For you it was middle school love at first sight. And you were his type: not Mexican.

After your first date and numerous cafecitos later, this one particular local coffee shop became your place to stop by on the way to almost any adventure. He had this cute habit of delicately twirling the wooden stir stick between his fingers as he listened to your stories from the classroom. Like a baton, the wooden stir stick could keep moving between his fingers for minutes at a time, finally being tossed in the garbage on the way out of the shop. If you look, you still probably have some of the paper cup sleeves from some of those days. The wooden stir sticks, however, never left the store.

A couple of years later, the local coffee shop also became the place where you went to feel whole when you had lost a lot of sleep over arguments and the mistrust that had worked their way into your relationship. You needed the caffeine to feel alert for the upcoming school day.
For nearly 15 years, you have started nearly every day with a medium latte. Sometimes two when your anxiety was through the roof. The costs added up, but you loved the look and the feel of your second home, the coffee shop on the corner.

Over the past four years of pregnancy, graduate school, your marriage ending, moving internationally, becoming a single mom, moving back in with your parents, navigating five years of back taxes, failing the immigration process, transitioning back to the US, losing multiple family members, buying a house, and starting a business in addition to teaching, you have found a way to cope with your daily venti skinny vanilla latte.

For six years now, your students know you as the one with the white cup.
But today you got paid from that second job and you finally believe that you can make this positive change. The change from buying coffee that someone else makes for you to drinking coffee that you make at home with your new machine. You are finally ready to let go of your crutch. Your costly coping mechanism. Your vice.

You have always told yourself a latte a day was better than coping other ways. This daily purchase was the one luxury you did not give up when you entered the life of single parenthood. The cup from the local coffee shop had, in fact, become your trademark.
You, like so many Americans and the friends you left behind in Mexico, depend on coffee to start your day. The change, however, is that your contribution to the retail value of the U.S. coffee market is in purchasing this machine. The machine that you actually asked the store clerk to take a picture of for you. A close up of your smile and the boxed machine. You are still part of the estimated $48 billion that is spent on coffee products, it is just that now you have to buy your own wooden stir sticks!

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