Coffee as a Defining Sense of Self

Hey sisters,

The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino.
― Joe Fox in You’ve Got Mail (Nora Ephron)

I’m starting this post in the coffee drive-through. We all like coffee, right? When I say coffee, though, I don’t mean actual coffee. Confession: I don’t like real coffee. I need the milk and the sugared syrup. They are my coffee security blanket.


Coffee used to be an occasional treat, once a month, maybe once a week (especially in the month before spring break). Then something changed. I blame my neurotic dog. You know, the one with the the-world-is-ending-destroy-the-house separation anxiety? When we started taking her to doggie daycare last year because apparently this is my life now, I was in the habit of leaving the house a solid 15 minutes before daycare opened. This created a weird void that should have given me permission to browse Reddit for awhile longer before leaving for work. Instead, Small Dog and I created the coffee habit.

When we left the house at 7:15, there was nothing to do but visit the coffee kiosk. Coffee kiosks are a thing in this state- little stand alone shacks with nothing to do but caffeinate the masses. God bless them. I got my mocha, Small Dog got her Milkbone.

Now, this is a daily ritual. They say rituals can be helpful in dealing with anxiety. “They” being the parts of my brain that debate cost benefit analysis.

I don’t think I’ll kick the coffee habit this school year.


P.S. Can we talk about the fact that Starbucks coffee was only 2.95 when You’ve Got Mail came out?


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