It's like the Big Bang. When the first sip of coffee hits the back of your mouth, everything expands. The day has potential, energy, a way forward.
I was maybe 12 when I had my first cup. We were camping.
Loaded with milk and sugar, it didn't resemble the bitter black liquid my father was drinking. But it was in the same green plastic mug the adults were using for breakfast. As much as I loved campfires, fishing and swimming in the lake on those trips, I looked forward to my once-a-year allowance of joe.
By the end of college, I had ditched both the milk (finding fresh stuff in the fridge was as rare as Halley's Comet) and the sugar. If black was good enough for my dad, it was good enough for me.
Back then, it was mostly the bad stuff — Folgers or Maxwell House from a can or liquid unknown dispensed from a vending machine. During my newspaper days, I toted a full thermos to carry me into the wee hours of the morning.
Then, Arabica happened. My first magazine job was nearby the University Circle coffeehouse. Roasting beans locally since 1976, Arabica's brews were nothing like what I'd been drinking. They were rich, dark, exotic, delicious.
Maybe that's when this whole coffee thing became a bit of an obsession. I needed better beans, a better grinder and more flavor in what I brewed at home. I discovered spots all over town where I can have a meeting, get some work done or just pick up a quality roast: Erie Island Coffee Co. in Rocky River, Starbucks in the Hanna Building, Dewey's Coffee House in Shaker Square, Rising Star Coffee Roasters in Little Italy (many of which we write about in this month's coffee and tea feature).
But when pour-overs arrived in the city, my world changed again. Two years later, I can still recall the notes of blueberry in that first cup from Pour Cleveland. It even has me contemplating a pour-over setup or maybe an AeroPress kit for my office to quench my three-plus-cups-a-day habit.
In November, Harvard scientists added to my buzz. People who drank three to five cups of coffee a day were about a 15 percent less likely to die prematurely than those who didn't, according to the study. Benefits included a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases, Type 2 diabetes and suicide.
So do yourself a favor. With our coffee universe expanding, go ahead and take a sip.