Coffee wasn’t always such a big deal, you know. At one point, it was just something that truckers drank and diners served endless pots of in many places. But beverages grow, they change, and somehow there’s been a boom where you need to know a little more about coffee than whether or not you want a small, medium, or large cup at McDonalds.
A lot of people who think they know a lot about coffee actually don’t, really, because they assume that in cultures where coffee is consumed more, people know more about it. The fact of the matter is that just because a country drinks coffee every day, it doesn’t mean that the people sitting in the cafes know any more or any less about it than your average Starbucks customer. It’s just a part of the culture, and a huge part of socializing.
A bit of history on coffee: it’s not something that every country can make, which is why a lot of countries were a little late to the game, or had some seriously sub-par beans for quite some time. And a love for coffee doesn’t mean that you even have tried that many varieties. From Columbia to Jamaica, Kenya to Java, a number of locations all develop their own special types of beans, which can only grow in those climates.
There’s a lot to be said about developing a love for coffee at a younger age. Instead of just getting hopped up on caffeine and sugar, it’s nice to practice drinking such a distinguished beverage. Because really, that’s what coffee ultimately is: a more appropriate social drink that you can’t get drunk on.
Learning to order coffee is one of the most important skills you can have as a socializing grown-up, and if you’re going to be traveling the world and going out with people, there’s no better time to learn than right now. If everyone else is ordering drinks with actual names, and not asking for “a shot” of something, then you need to not order a single or even double espresso. It will be much smaller than their drinks, and you will feel awkward. If bitter things aren’t really your taste, then go for anything with mocha or leche, as you’ll get chocolate and milk to cut the taste of the coffee.
But part of a love for coffee is appreciating all of the fun and fancy versions of drinks that have been developed, and trying them all out. Depending on where you are in the world, or the style of coffee you’re sampling, a number of different things are used for flavor. Whether it’s enjoying the taste of chocolate in a mocha or drizzling some sweet caramel-like sauce down in Argentina right into the coffee, it doesn’t have to be a bitter-tasting drink experience.
Want to make sure you don’t make any mistakes when you’re out drinking coffee in public? Just order a simple beverage, and pay attention to what everyone else is getting. If they get elaborate foamy drinks that take a while to drink, and you’re stuck holding a shot of espresso that’s not designed to be sipped, then you’re going to throw the balance off. Order a big drink when other people are ordering big drinks, and a small drink when people are ordering small drinks, and if in doubt, just add as much sugar as you want.
Also if you are looking for a decent cup of coffee the machine actually matters. You can find reviews of cheap but good coffee makers at the Coffee Heroes website.
And if it all seems like too much, just remember: a love for coffee is made, not born. You’ve got time to figure out which version is best for you.