Aaron’s Story: The Younger Years

I can’t remember a time that coffee hasn’t held a special place in my heart. In our family, coffee was alway a social beverage. When walking into my grandma’s house there was always a pot of coffee sitting in the Bunn coffee maker. My mom would take a seat at the table as my grandma would serve her a cup and join us around the table. I remember that table very clearly being a table full of emotions…laughter, sadness, anger, but most importantly full of love. Love for our family, love for others, and love for Jesus.

The conversations were the best. But the seat where I got to sit was even better: my grandma’s knee. This was the seat of honor at the table where the kids were given the ride of their life. Us kids would press the “button” on my grandma’s knee to turn on the ride. We were quickly transported to the past, riding our trusty steed through the dusty plains of the west. Or maybe we were on a roller coaster ride, bumping down the tracks! Whatever the scenario, it was always followed with a cookie and a cup of milk with a splash of coffee served in a cup just my size. I was hooked from day one.

As I grew up, coffee became a part of my morning routine. I would take my travel cup full of coffee, flavored creamer, and sugar on the bus headed to high school. I was hooked at this point to the sugar and flavors more than I was to the taste of coffee. As I sat there in my first hour English class on September 11, 2001, the Two Towers were struck. I’ll never forget that day, sitting in freshman English with my travel mug of coffee in hand, eyes fixed on the TV screen, sitting in silence.

As a result of those days, my brother joined the military and graduated basic training. As quickly as he returned to civilian life, he was forced to drop out of school and was deployed to the middle east as operation Iraqi Freedom began. My brother and I were very close. On days that I didn’t ride the bus, he drove me to school. I looked up to him as a role model. While he was deployed, I received my driver’s license. My morning drives to high school consisted of the same back country roads my brother and I used to drive, with a cup of coffee in one hand, steering wheel in the other, and juggling the stick shift of my Chevy S-10 pick up. It was a beautiful dance.

A little over a year later, my brother returned from deployment. One morning as we were catching up over a cup of coffee, I grabbed my cup and reached for the bottle of flavored creamer. Suddenly, I heard from over my shoulder, “You know you don’t really like coffee if you don’t like it black.” Ouch. The reality of the statement settled deep into my soul. I put the bottle of creamer down and settled for my first black cup of Folgers Coffee. Barely able to choke it down, I asked myself, “How do people drink it this way?” This was the beginning of my passion for specialty coffee.

I began with the quick switch to a French press coffee method. This was WAY better than the Mr. Coffee we used in our house. I still wanted creamer though. As I began to research, I found that the frozen tin of Folgers was not going to cut it in my pursuit of great coffee. I invested in a blade coffee mill and began buying whole bean from the grocery store. Once again, this was an improvement.

Improving my coffee skills came to an abrupt halt as I started college. I reverted to the easiest method of brewing coffee–automated Mr. Coffee. Coffee was a necessity, especially during those exhausting all-nighters cramming for finals or preparing last minute term papers. My undergrad was in Music Education with an emphasis in extra-curricular activities. I graduated in the 5 year plan with my degree of Vocal Music Education. Coffee took a back seat during these years only to be revived later.