Picture
I can't believe I went 19 years of my life without tasting a single drop of coffee. "Disgusting!" was my sentiment. Then, I suddenly went from  coffeephobe to coffee snob in what seemed like overnight. This is a chronicle of my dramatic turnaround and time spent in two of the most respected coffee cities in the world. 

I LOVE coffee, and Seattle is my favorite city in the United States. See a connection? I know, it's obvious, but we are talking pre-coffee snob era Ember. My love for the Emerald City extends far deeper than the mere jumble of coffee joints on every street corner and caffeine-loaded locals. The gorgeous scenery, colonial houses, better-than-Photoshop green grass and quaint neighborhoods are what did me in. But I'm not here to gaze on Seattle's beauty, I want to talk about coffee!

During my ten months as a Seattleite, I became hooked on white mochas...that is with half a shot of espresso. Call me weaksauce, but you could spot me every morning work-bound, white mocha in hand. With an endless supply of coffee shops, I became conditioned to only study in the best looking coffeehouses (white mocha in hand, of course) and jumped head first into the world of coffee culture.

Enter California era, I would spend every Sunday, all day, at the Coffee Bean sipping black coffees, pumping out research papers and marketing reports. Yes, I did just take a giant step up the coffee ladder from half shot white mochas to straight up black coffees, and I eventually invested in a French press and some coffee beans so I could make the stuff at home. 

It could be argued that coffee is somewhere at the center of our culture. We catch up with friends over coffee, the coffee maker is quite possibly the most important appliance in the office, and to carry a paper Starbucks branded coffee cup down the street is to be high status.  

As I made my way through Europe, my hypothesis proved true for almost every culture. Giant black coffees in Sweden, mini espressos in Portugal, coffee with a cookie in Holland, Arabic coffee in Israel, everyone seemed to be obsessed with the stuff and I was in coffee heaven. 

Then I went to Southeast Asia and it all went a bit beany. One Nespresso too many and I became a full fledged coffee snob. From that moment on I vowed to never lay hands on rubbish instant coffee again, and made it a game to find the best coffee shop in whichever town I was passing through. I even went on what turned into a tedious full day trek through the entirety of Bangkok in search a single-very well hidden-coffeehouse.

Now, as luck would have it, I have landed in arguably the best coffee city in the world; Melbourne. With over 400 cafes in the downtown area alone and an entire magazine dedicated to caffeine lovers like me, it isn't hard to find a decent brew. There aren't as many chain coffeehouses (like Starbucks), most of the cafes are locally owned, and forget all those fancy syrups, Melbourne is strictly cappuccino, latte, espresso. Seattle still trumps Melbourne for best coffeehouses and character, but when it comes down to the frothing, foaming, steaming hot mug of deliciousness, I've gotta give it to you Melbourne, you've out-coffeed Seattle!

 
 
I can't tell you how many times I've gotten a head tilting, baffled, inquisitive looking response from telling someone I hail from the States (or the U.S.) It has become clear that a vast majority of non-Americans don't understand our English slang. Respond with America, and they know exactly what you're talking about. Respond with California and you get some witty comment about the Governator (they all seem pretty proud to spout that fact off). 

I very rarely meet a fellow American who says they hail from America. Every time that happens, I get this weird image of a hillbilly, and feel like I should switch to my best redneck accent and thrown in something about 'Merica and our shotguns and hoedowns. 

Why is it that no one knows where the U.S. is? And why is it that we are Americans but not from America persay? I've got a few theories. I'd like to give a quick shout out to Amerigo Vespucci for discovering the entirety of North and South America, a bundle of 22 countries and people who could all subsequently claim to be from America. In Spanish I was taught to say I'm Estadounidense instead of Americana because the other Americana Latin cultures could take offense at me claiming the land as mine. So, I began referring to my home as the United States. Luckily, the Mexicans haven't become disgruntled, because they too are from the United States (of Mexico). That could result in an american nightmare, sparking reason for us to rename our country, or in typical american fashion, sue Mexico for copyright infringement on the United States.  

Regardless, it seems that the rest of the world was not taught the America/Estadounidense fact, and to them there is only one America. The Aussies ask me questions about life in America and introduce me as their friend from America, and I just chuckle. I have even learned to say I'm from America, although I have effectively suppressed the twang and shotgun banter. Just give me some time, and it may come through.