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Coffee Brings People Together (And Starbucks Coffee College)

Coffee and I? We’re old buddies. I grew up in a coffee-drinking family, who gathered every weekend day for a leisurely cup. In summer, we’d all sit on the sun porch — even before I started drinking coffee myself — and chat, sometimes inviting neighbors in with a friendly call out the window. Sometimes, we still do that.

My first cup of coffee was had at age 10. We were in Florida for Thanksgiving, and my vacation friend (she and I were always there at the same time every year) and I decided to be a little rebellious and have a cup from the free coffee bar. My family didn’t bat an eye, and I’ve been drinking coffee ever since. By the time I hit sophomore year of high school, I had my own gigantic travel mug that accompanied me to school every morning until I lost it in college.

Eventually, I cut back on my consumption. I mean, really, brewing a whole pot just for me? That’s a little too much. These days, I usually have one to two cups a day. Sometimes I have three, if I end up at the coffee shop to get some work done. Turns out, all the coffee drinking is a healthy move. My husband is now up to two to three cups a day himself, something supported by recent research that drinking a couple cups a day can lower the risk of prostate cancer in men. (Ladies, good news for you too: female coffee drinkers also have a lowered risk of developing breast cancer.)

But coffee drinking is more than a health move or a morning ritual: it’s a social thing. Coffee brings people together — neighbors over a morning cup, spouses at the kitchen table, co-workers in the latte line. There’s no secret why the term coffee klatch came into existence. Coffee is naturally friendly.

When was the last time you lingered over a cup, talking about whatever was on your mind? For me, it was this morning. When was the last time you and a friend met at a coffee shop for a quick chat – planned or unplanned? When was the last time you put on a pot of coffee to share?

If you haven’t done these things lately, you should. It’s worth it.

Given my love of coffee, you can imagine how excited I was about a recent adventure. A couple months back, I received an incredible invitation to attend Starbucks Coffee College in Seattle. It’s a once-a-year program where Starbucks invites a handful of writers and journalists to go behind the scenes at their company, seeing how they make coffee from procuring the beans to roasting to serving customers. I could barely contain my excitement as I lined up childcare for the kids and prepared to go (I may or may not have referred to it as “the mothership calling me home”).

Not only did I get to take this amazing trip and learn so much about coffee making, but I got to do it with my good friend Cate from Sweetnicks. (I mentioned this trip briefly when I returned, promising a few more details.)

As a journalist, this trip wasn’t just about fun though — it was about research and learning, both of which happened in droves. I came home with incredible amounts of information to fuel a year’s worth of coffee-related assignments. I have a notebook filled with pitch ideas for the websites and publications that I work for — and a ton of background information to get me started. That’s incredibly valuable, and I cannot wait to write them all — whether right here or for other publications.

In the meantime, think about the socialness of coffee. Plan a coffee date, invite a neighbor in for a cup or just chill with your family over a freshly brewed pot. With our busy, technology filled lives it’s easy to forget about connecting on a personal, face-to-face level with people in real-life. But it’s important, and you should. Whatever you do, enjoy that time and have a lovely weekend.

In the meantime, who do you share your coffee experience with?

Disclosure: Starbucks provided me with transportation, lodging, food and training during my Starbucks Coffee College experience. They didn’t require me to write about them or do anything more than attend and follow their schedule. Anything I write here or anywhere else regarding the experience is my own personal opinion and not impacted by the free trip.


Saturday 21st of May 2011

I started drinking coffee when I was 14! And have never looked back. Total addict...there's a noticeable difference if I don't drink it in the I do my best not to let that happen. My mom is also a serious coffee drinker and it's definitely something we bond over!


Friday 20th of May 2011

My parents always drank decaf, so they had no problem with us joining in. Usually at dinner parties. And instead of milk and sugar, they usually put ice cream in our coffees!