To me, coffee is such an important part of my story. And I want to share my story with you.
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.
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.
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?