Like millions of other humyns* around the globe, I love coffee. Coffee has been called the nectar of the Gods. It is a brown bitter liquid but it is beloved by so many diverse folks and cultures. For me, there are few things as simple and as enjoyable as a hot morning cup of Joe during the winter months. In addition, there are few things as refreshing as iced coffee during the warm weather months. I drink my coffee with a generous amount of half-and-half and sweetener. I would not call myself a coffee connoisseur and I am not particularly picky when it comes to coffee. I like everything from the upscale, fancy dancy café to Dunkin’ Donuts. I rarely drink flavored coffee but I have been known to enjoy vanilla and blueberry flavors. In this entry, I would like to explore a vital part of coffee culture: cafes and coffee shops.
I credit the coffee shop Grounds for Thought [GFT] as being a partial but pivotal contributor to me finishing my dissertation. Located in downtown Bowling Green, GFT is a lovely coffee shop/book store that stayed open until midnight! I am not in any way, shape or form a morning person. In fact, the only thing that make mornings bearable is coffee. I tend to hit my own personal stride in the afternoon. I would usually walk downtown around 4 and have an early dinner at Panera. Then I would head down the street to GFT and look for a workspace. This part is critical. First, you have to be able to find a space at all. Sometimes it was very crowded. Second, I sought a space near an outlet as chances were good that my laptop was almost out of juice. Once I was settled, I would go and get my coffee. On occasion I would get an iced tea but since the topic of this blog is entry is coffee I will stick to coffee. Once back to my station with my steaming cup of java I would begin to work.
Writing my dissertation is one of the hardest things I have ever done. This blog is a piece of cake compared to the dissertation, although just like the dissertation I have fallen behind multiple times and it is only just 38 days in. The dissertation took me 2-3 years to complete. GFT was always there for me. One thing I learned quickly, and which is quite helpful, is that I work much better out and about than I do working from home. There are too many distractions working from home. Hence, GFT not only provided a working nest but it also provided a free flow of coffee with low-cost refills. If I needed a break from writing, I would explore the many books throughout the store. Like most people on the planet, I find coffee energizing. It rarely makes me jittery but it can cause me to have insomnia. This was an issue when I would stay until midnight and continuously drink coffee. It helped to give me the energy to write up a storm. I would walk back to my apartment and struggle to fall sleep from the coffee but usually the sheet exhaustion would kick in and I would have dreams of sentence fragments, semi-colons and MLA citations dance in my head. There were also more than few times that I had coffee-fueled all-nighters in my office. I remember once almost having a heart attack when the night janitor knocked on the door at 3 AM. He merely wanted to check why there was a light on in the otherwise dark East Hall. I would leave in the early morning hours and then go treat myself to a delicious breakfast. Building in rewards was essential to getting the work done.
It took a long time, but I eventually successfully defended my dissertation. I had revisions to do after the defense and coffee was needed more than ever! The best feeling was to hand in the final version and then much later to get that doctoral diploma in the mail. Coffee has been a comforting and encouraging friend through much of my adult life. In addition to getting me through challenging periods like the writing of my dissertation, coffee is a great socializing factor. When people get together in pairs or in greater numbers, coffee is often involved. Coffee brings people together, just like food does. There is nothing quite so fanciful as drinking coffee with special friend in a café while the rain pours outside. So hooray for coffee and for the work it facilitates and the relationships and community it builds and strengthens.
*This is not a misspelling. It takes the “man” out of “human” to provide a more gender neutral descriptor, as in all of humynkind.