My First Buzz

July 11, 2011 by Katy Brown
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Not your mother's cup of coffee.

I can’t speak Starbucks. As much as I’d like to float up to the counter and request a hot-tall-skinny-upside-down-with-whip-caramel-macchiato, or a triple-grande-140-degree-no-foam-cinnamon-dolce-latte-with-caramel-on-the-whip, I’ll never be that well versed.  Or that hyperactive.

A couple of weeks ago, I stopped at the Beckley Travel Plaza to visit the famous coffee shop, and for 35 minutes (yes, I know…how stupid), I waited – and watched – the world go by.  There was an endless flow of vanilla, white mocha, cap and frap…and teenagers. I was shocked by the number of kids standing in line, waiting for 23 ounces of cold caffeine topped with enough sugar and fat to cause juvenile diabetes to surge.  Parents shelled out $4 and change for glorified milkshakes (at 9:15 a.m.), and handed their children straws to stab into layer after layer of empty calories.  Yet when my order was announced – a tall cappuccino – all eyes shifted to Plain Jane who just needed a little something for the road.  Boring.

Forgive me for sounding old, but when I was growing up, coffee was an adult beverage. Pouring that first cup was a rite of passage; a toast to becoming a young lady! Coffee was a drink that men and women of mature age consumed in the morning while reading the newspaper, and after dinner while watching 60 Minutes.  There was a saucer under that cup, too.  Today, a paper cup comes with a cardboard sleeve.

In a recent study, researchers found that 40% of the 18-to 24-year-olds who responded to the National Coffee Association’s National Coffee Drinking Trends 2011 survey said they are drinking coffee daily, compared with 31%  in 2010. Why? They have more money to spend on caffeine.  But the younger kids who don’t have jobs?  They’re just wasting their health and accelerating life, some doctors say.

Studies also show that caffeine severely impacts the amount of sleep kids get on a daily basis, a major problem because rest is critical for girls and boys whose minds and bodies are still developing.  Coffee has the same effects on the body as energy shots and drinks, a type of legal, liquid speed.

I took my first sip of coffee when I was a senior in college. I needed something hot to thaw out a frozen body that walked across campus on a winter morning. Black, strong and bitter, I couldn’t believe how horrible it tasted, or how people consumed cup after cup day after day.  I experimented with sugar packets and powdered creamer, whole milk and half ‘n half, artificial sweeteners and flavored syrups.  Finally, I found my drink of choice: dark roast coffee with a generous splash of 2% milk and one Sweet ‘n Lo. That chemical reaction took years to come together.

Now, a Keurig coffee maker is my appliance of choice – my one stop, one cup, one buzz of the day.  I love playing barista in my own kitchen – walking up to the counter, dropping in a K-Cup and waiting 30 seconds for Café au lait.  But you can bet your last Star Buck that I won’t be pouring a cup for my daughters any time soon. We’ll be sticking with the seasonal small-hot-cocoa-with-mini-marshmallows.

Because childhood is good to the last drop.

Need Starbucks 101?  Here’s step-by-step help for ordering a complicated cup of Joe:

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8 Responses to “My First Buzz”

  1. CarrieNo Gravatar says:

    I sooooo agree with you, Katy!
    I myself still haven’t found that perfect concoction and am not a coffee drinker (unlike my husband) and don’t let my 4 yr old or even my 8 yr old (gasp!) drink it. Nor will they begin any time soon!
    I’ve watched too (when waiting with above mentioned coffee drinking husband) the number of young kids that are drinking it and am floored.
    I actually haven’t seen too many signs that my kids *need* caffeine….in fact, if I could bottle the energy that they already naturally have, I might consider drinking some of that myself!

  2. KatyNo Gravatar says:

    I just hate to see kids grow up so fast! I hear parents remark that they don’t know where the time went, but I do — from clothes to coffee and from technology to communication — they’ve achieved most of young adulthood by the time they turn 12! We’re shaving valuable years off their life by allowing them to promote themselves out of childhood. It makes me mad and sad all at the same time!

  3. Nikki BowmanNo Gravatar says:

    Katy — I loved this! I truly enjoy reading your blog posts! Keep up the great work!

  4. Katy BrownNo Gravatar says:

    Nikki, this is a tremendous compliment! THANK YOU!!

  5. CaraNo Gravatar says:

    I remember so clearly sitting at my grandmother’s table, watching the adults drink a cup of black coffee after dinner. Folgers. I thought it was so sophisticated. I still remember how much my sinuses burned when I tried my first sip (in my teens). It was awful! Then I worked as a barista in college and had to like coffee. I’m still a tea girl, but I can drink a vanilla latte and not hate it. Even my homemade coffee has an insane amount of sugar and milk in it.

  6. SaraNo Gravatar says:

    NEVER drank coffee until I was a grown up! And in college, it was TAB or Dr. Pepper for late night studying. Now, it’s 5-hour energy, Monster, and all other sorts of caffiene-laden awful stuff. Thanks, Katy, for writing about this!

  7. HeatherNo Gravatar says:

    I agree. Coffee is for adults. Besides, if I gave my children coffee, I’d lose my competitive edge!

  8. Food GuyNo Gravatar says:

    TOTALLY agree!

    Although I love coffee (and have, on more than one ocassion, considered sleeping with my life-changing Keurig) I draw the line at kids caffin’ up.

    One of my earliest memories is of my grandfather fixing me a cup of coffee at his house, but it was 95% milk and sugar. Still thought I was a big-shot though!

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