Confessions Of A Chicago Coffee Wife

By: Meghan Sherman

How Did I Get Here?!?! Anyone? Help!

As a kid I never pictured myself standing at a cupping table discussing the flavor profile and acidity levels of various coffees.

I never would have guessed that I would be going on “coffee crawls” and visiting upwards of five coffee shops in one day on a bi-weekly basis.

I wouldn’t have thought that I would be able to talk about or even understand anything about TDS levels, extraction times or coffee particle sizes.

But, Here I Am.

This is not a path that I chose for myself. I do not have a burning desire for any and everything to do with coffee. I never even worked at a coffee shop. I’m a marketer, so my burning desires lie more along the lines of social media, website analytics, customer segmentation and brand strategy. But alas, I fell in love with (and am now engaged to) a boy who loves coffee.

Actually, when I fell in love with him, Chris was a boy who was going to be a math professor and just happened to really like coffee. Then we moved to Chicago and he started working at Brothers K Coffeehouse in Evanston where he was introduced to the Chicago coffee culture and his like of coffee quickly progressed into a love of coffee.

Suddenly, I found myself yanked into a world that I never knew existed. I love coffee, but I will honestly admit that I didn’t know the first thing about it. Did you know that coffee is green before it is roasted? Well, two years ago I didn’t! (I told you I didn’t know anything!) But, I’ve always loved learning, so I was really excited about diving into the world of coffee and being a more informed consumer. I went with Chris to every coffee event to which I was invited; asked as many questions as I could think of; did everything I could to fall as much in love with it as Chris was. I was determined to be a real “coffee person.”

So, You Want To Be A Coffee Nerd

The transition into a “coffee person” has not been easy. I have given up most of the coffee-related products that I loved before coming to Chicago: Starbucks, flavored coffee, creamers, syrups, skim milk, anything iced or larger than 12 ounces–gone. I have been to more coffee shops than I care to remember. Road trips now involve stopping at every independent coffee shop on the way to our destination and critiquing drinks, environment, set-up and so on. (In fact, our oh-so-romantic Valentine’s Day trip this year was a coffee crawl around Milwaukee.)

I have spent hours at latte art competitions trying to help Chris relax his nerves so he can pour the perfect rosetta/heart/tulip/swan. I have attended way too many coffee cuppings, listened to people claiming they taste the flavors of pipe tobacco or coriander seeds in a cup of coffee, and pretending that I understand what they are talking about. I have explained countless times to my parents, grandparents, friends and strangers why a cup of coffee is not just a cup of coffee and why Folgers is not an acceptable choice for their morning beverage. I learned how to pronounce Yirgacheffe. I have even allowed my tiny kitchen to be overtaken with coffee brewing devices.

A slight change of heart

Yet, even after all of this, I still do not have a burning desire for coffee. It is something I love, but it is not my passion. There are days where the last thing I want to talk about is coffee. I still roll my eyes when Chris brings his Aeropress coffee maker and hand grinder to every hotel we stay at. I don’t think that will ever change. In the end, I am not a real coffee person, and considering I am not a barista, I don’t think I ever will be. But, as the wedding approaches and there is more and more talk from Chris of opening his own coffee shop, I have started to develop my own role in the coffee community–the Coffee Wife.

I finally feel like I have found a role that makes sense for me. I am not a true coffee person, but I am the the counter-part and support system of a coffee person and I couldn’t be happier.

So, armed with a substantial amount of coffee knowledge, unending support, a healthy dose of sarcasm and a smile I will embark on this new journey. Not to become a coffee person, but to become a Coffee Wife.

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