For me, it all started gradually. There was no transcendent “a-ha” moment brought on through a single sip that has served as the bedrock for my appreciation.
Rather it has been an evolution brought on through countless cups, gradually forming and refining itself with time. Consequently, coffee has not only changed me but subtly shaped many of my experiences, often setting the frame for some of my fondest memories.
Growing up in the Midwest led me to seeing coffee in a distinctly pragmatic light. Coffee gave added purpose to those Sunday mornings spent lazing over the paper and a reason to idle away countless hours of my youth at the nearby truck stop, non-essential but useful in its own right. It was not until I moved West that I began to develop an appreciation that would take on a life of its own.
Upon arriving in Portland, unbeknownst to me at the time, I began my descent into the complex and wonderful coffee subculture.
For the next few years my weekends were punctuated with forays to various cafes throughout Portland trying out every roast under the sun.
Despite spending countless hours at a cramped table at Stumptown with one eye on my studies and the other firmly fixed on the roaster, I remained blissfully ignorant of the place specialty coffee was taking on in my life.
It wasn’t until years later when I found myself in a subterranean café during a sweltering Taiwanese summer eagerly awaiting a vacuum pot of Sumatran that I became fully cognizant of how important the beverage was to me.
Until that time, I saw good coffee as a mild indulgence that one could easily do without or easily replace with some alternative. Unsurprisingly, I, for some reason, was unable to do this but had never given that much mind. As I sat there watching the water simmer, I quickly reflected on the magnitude of this revelation.
Thinking back, I realized that many of my best memories were framed around the simple pleasures of the beverage. From a doppio in a Sicilian bus depot to the cramped confines of an Austrian coffeehouse in a tent, my memories rapidly danced from cup to cup. Slowly I began to accept the implications of my newfound awareness and smiled.
Since then I have allowed my passion to take an active role, guiding me to countless new encounters which have led me to a whole world of flavors and a greater appreciation for the nuances of each bean. All of these experiences have reinforced my personal belief that the small pleasures of life are often the most fundamental to our interaction with the world. It may have taken a while but I finally came to realize that an evolving appreciation of coffee has been, and will continue to be, an essential element of my daily life.
Otto - one man's life in coffee - Entry #3