My Life with Coffee: From the First Cup to the First Cupping

By Amanda Halm
My coffee obsession started on a humid morning in July, an hour before the heat really set in. My dad and I sat on creaky old chairs on the porch of a cottage in a little vacation town in Michigan.

I remember the moment vividly because before that, like most 13-year-olds, I crinkled my nose at the smell of coffee. I considered it an "adult" drink because it doesn't taste like candy and it's not a fun color like fuchsia or tangerine (before coffee, there was Slurpee). I wasn't even allowed to drink it, which might be why my first taste seems so significant.

I blame my dad for my caffeine headaches, my 3:00 p.m. latte fixes, and late-night java jitters (I refuse to succumb to a coffee curfew). He opened one of those silver commuter coffee cups and filled a mug with a beautiful chestnut brew, spooned in a little cream and sugar and I was in heaven.

Maybe it was just me acting all grown up or the way he prepared it. Maybe it was the simple act of sipping coffee, sharing a rare moment with my dad and watching steam rise off the lake. Whatever it was, coffee turned into something special that day.

Since that vacation, I've been a java junkie. But I must admit, although I admire coffee, I'm by no means a connoisseur. I grew up far from Seattle coffee country, around Chicago, the "city of broad shoulders," a city where "drip" is not part of the dialect (go there and ask for it sometime - expect raised eyebrows).

To my family and a large portion of the Midwest, coffee isn't a beverage to savor and enjoy; it's fuel. Until I was an adult, I didn't even know coffee outside the blue or red canisters that graced our cabinet (depending on the sale). Even now, all grown up and slurping it down three times a day, I don't know nearly as much about what goes into "liquid heaven" as I should.

I recently had another coffee moment that could change my drinking habits forever. I attended my first cupping at Zoka. Sniffing, sipping and slurping with notable coffee experts made me realize I'm not getting enough out of coffee.

The Kenya Thangathi Coffee was my personal favorite- and yes, it really does smell like freshly popped kettle corn. I also got to sample the Brazil Condado Estate Coffee and the Organic Ethiopia Sidamo Coffee and found myself falling for coffee in a way I'd never have before. For me, cupping was like being reacquainted with an old friend but finding out they've developed into something new and incredible and that you want to spend every waking second with them.

I don't stop and smell the beans. Or the roses. Or really anything before 9:00 a.m. And I should. Life is short. It's time to enjoy more moments like my first sip. Only with better coffee.

Do you remember your first cup or cupping? When everything changed, and coffee was suddenly the nectar of the Gods? Comment below!