For each person in this world the term "coffee" means something unique. For some it may be a drink to get them though the early hours of a work day. For others, it may be the reason they get up in the morning.
To me, coffee is such an important part of my story. And I want to share my story with you.
This is me. You may recognize me if you have ever been to Van Dyke. Usually I am sitting at the last table on my laptop drinking a pour over. While I am the coffee blogger for Van Dyke, my coffee journey is not as long as you may expect.
To get a better understanding of my coffee background, it might be best to understand where I am from. I grew up in a small suburb of Seattle, where Starbucks and Seattle's Best is about as present as the rain is. I began drinking "coffee" in 8th grade or so. I would get peppermint mochas with an extra pump of vanilla. I had one recently, and they are one of the most cloyingly sweet drinks in existence. It was essentially a peppermint hot chocolate with a hint of coffee. Essentially, I grew up without a robust understanding of what coffee could be.
My coffee journey began around two years ago now. My, now fiance, just started dating and we would go to Starbucks often to do homework. We started to grow unsatisfied with the coffee so we looked for new places to go. She brought me to this place called Handsome Coffee Roasters in the Arts District and I tried their cold brew. It was something that I had never experienced before in my life. It was like opening up a whole new world of taste that I had never experienced before.
This taste of cold brew brought us on a coffee exploration that lead us to around fifty five different coffee shops visited during the year of 2014. These were shops that ranged from Southern California to Seattle (and everywhere in between), and even out to Phoenix AZ.
Coffee has also made me more financially conscious. It is no longer just about getting the best coffee, it is about support both local and small businesses as well as supporting the global economy. I have realized that the shops that I love the most are the local shops. These are the shops that support the community. These are the shops I support.
Also, buying coffee is not just about the shop you are buying from. The shops need to get their coffee from somewhere, and usually these places are third world or developing countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Colombia, and Guatemala. I have found that the majority of local shops are sourcing their coffee ethically and thus paying the farmers a good wage for their coffee crops. This need for ethically sourcing coffee has pushed me to love small shops and attempt to avoid larger chains.
During this journey I was blessed to find Van Dyke. My first experience there was around a week after it opened. I was met with a very knowledgeable barista and owner, Justin. Because Van Dyke was a ten minute drive from my dorm in La Mirada, it became one of my favorite shops.
While Van Dyke creates good coffee, in my opinion, it had a much bigger impact than just serving me a good cup of coffee. It became the place which expanded my knowledge of coffee beyond what I ever expected to know. It also taught me so much about how coffee is so much more than just coffee, it is about community and the people that it brings together.
So what does coffee mean to me? Coffee means community. Coffee means bringing people together who would have never come together without coffee. Coffee means having a passion to make the best drink possible. Coffee means supporting local business as well as global coffee farmers.
What does coffee mean to you?