This is a personal recounting of my journey through the different stages of coffee consumption. Like perhaps most Filipinos, I started my coffee journey with instant coffee. Starbucks and all those other coffee chains had just started to enter the market and I had just been introduced to thesis creation, deadlines, and cramming. Based on the reactions and behaviour of my peers and classmates, I began wanting to experiment on what was available at home but there wasn’t anything to experiment on. Coffee was not a beverage of choice in my household as my father preferred teas and so did my mother and I found that teas were for old people and not for the young and experimental.
One day I went over to a friend’s house to do a project and he made some coffee for himself and asked me if I wanted some too. I told him that up to that point I did not drink coffee but I would try it. This friend of mine, for being the same age as I was, acted very mature and seemed to have known a lot about adult life, coffee, cigarette breaks. I was drawn in to this attempt to imitate the habits of the adult working class through a simple cup of coffee or even perhaps just plain peer pressure. The coffee was, for all that it stood for, really sweet and creamy and that it masked the bitter part of an adult behaviour that we had no idea about at the time. We frequented my friend’s place and had the opportunity to have coffee again, and it became a habit and soon I just had to have it in my own home. I tried different kinds of sugars and different kinds of creamers with different flavourings and I was content for the most part since I did not know anything else besides my instant coffee with creamer and sugar. Then to try and not be a burden to my friend who kept on giving me free coffee, I brought my own 3-in-1 sachets with the guise of trying out different kinds. That was my first experience with lesser quality coffee. It didn’t have the strength of taste that I had grown accustomed to when I made my own coffee and it was overwhelmingly sweet and when you added a bit too much water you’d end up with a less than ideal cup of instant coffee. But it was cheap, convenient, and delivered that caffeine kick that we needed to pull all-nighters just to make a deadline. I had started to differentiate varying instant coffees, I would recognise the smell of a particular brand and later on realise that instant coffees were not all created equal. The freeze-dried instant coffees started to appeal to me more than the 3-in-1s and I started looking forward to my next cup.
We’d have meetings over coffee, hang-outs over coffee, started frequenting cafes and then after that, I realised that I was addicted to coffee but not in the sense that I had become dependent but more on the social aspect of it. Coffee was still coffee at that point, the decision and the desire to find something better came still at a later point.