I love coffee. What’s not to love? From the depth and darkness of its colour, to the earthy fullness of its flavour. Even the sharp bitter aftertaste that lingers on your tongue.
I distinctly remember the first time I tasted coffee. I was seven years old. My dad’s fresh cup of Colombian brew sat on the coffee table, steaming billowing from it, like every morning. Usually, he guarded it carefully against my attempts to steal a sip.
But on that blessed day, the phone rang: my aunt calling from England. As my dad stepped away to answer the phone, I seized the moment and wrapped my little hands around the cup, first taking in the aroma, and then allowing myself to take a sip. I was caught red-handed, too distracted by caffeinated delirium to notice that father’s presence.
I can only imagine the horror he felt at seeing his little daughter gulping black coffee. He sat me down and explained that if I wanted to grow tall and strong, I should wait until I was a little older to drink coffee.
But the “damage” was done. That was the beginning of my love affair with coffee, and of cafés being a point of connection for me and my father.
Over the next few years, our father-daughter dates took us to cafés where we would sample different teas, coffees and hot chocolate variants (tea or hot chocolate for me, coffee or tea for my pops).
When I reached my mid-teens, I rekindled my love affair with coffee. I grew up in rural, Western Norway, and my municipality had two cafés. One was an extension of the local grocery store in my village Flekke. I’d sit there in the afternoons and do homework, before going to teach a dance class at my old primary school. The second cafe was part of the local bakery in the neighbouring village, Dale, where I went to junior high and high school. It sadly closed about four years ago, but so many of my happiest moments were spent there with family and friends, laughing, eating marzipan cake, and simply enjoying the ambience and each other’s company.
Since I moved to the States three years ago, this has been a way for me to stay connected to this culture of ‘kos’ (which can be loosely translated as ‘cosiness’, though this translation still doesn’t quite do it justice) that I grew up with.
I’ve been on a mission to visit more cafes in St. Paul and Minneapolis, and use this as a way to become better acquainted with the Cities, all while maintaining a sense of home. I look forward to sharing my coffee shop and ‘kos’ adventures with you all in this column.
Read next week for some ramblings about my first jaunt to the Wilde Roast Cafe in Minneapolis.