The Sounds of Coffee

What does coffee taste like?

Coffee tastes like a sharp, flavorful pasttime. In the winter, I like it iced. In the mornings, I like it warm. In the late afternoons, I like it served with a nice pile of homework, preferably finished by the time I down my cup.

What does coffee look like?

For years, I would wander to my local Starbucks shop in Portland, located conveniently by a QFC and a Nestle Tollhouse and a Booster Juice and a Blockbuster’s. ‘Coffee’ looked like the inside of a shop with an unusual amount of adolescents, all from the surrounding neighborhoods, all of whom were wearing excited expressions, their youthful faces beaming at the fact that they could walk to a place of entertainment and deliciousness without depending on their parents. Their eagerness, mine included, hinted at yearnings for freedom. The escape was ultimately found in the frothy cup of a Caramel Frappuchino, paid for in $3.65 of their own cash.

What does coffee feel like?

Sadly, coffee doesn’t give me a shot of energy.

No, I gain energy from being around people, being told something provocative, being given a reason to laugh in the early hours of the morning, either through some funny video online or a late-night companion also putting off rest.

But it doesn’t do for me what it does for others. Every day at 8:00 a.m., my roommate ventures out of our shared dorm with a freshly brewed cup in her hand; if I awaken, I’ll occasionally feel irritated that she persistently pumps that Keurig, waiting on it to churn out the caffeine-filled substance that I myself can’t enjoy, especially when its symphony of eeeerrrrrghhhing won’t let me enjoy some much-savored sleep.

But then I’ll also wonder when I’ll inevitably be that way too, addicted to grinding those beans, getting up earlier just to feel more awake.

But either way, I can’t drink coffee like a real working adult right now. Not yet. It doesn’t feel right, I think as I just feel like I want to go back to sleep……

What does coffee sound like?


I don’t know.

I think as I watch him put on his coat. He catches me ‘umm-ing’, catches me trying to work up the energy to ask what I was going to say, an energy that if I were someone different, might be from that caffeine-filled substance. An energy that I lack in that moment, a feeling of perky eagerness that I cannot muster myself to fake because more is at stake.

Do you want to go out for coffee sometime?

If this were two years in the future, asking someone to go out for a special drink would entail a darkly lit setting, filled with 20-something millennials looking for love. We would be two of those lost souls, sipping some sort of beer or vodka, laughing at it all.

But until then, the most socially acceptable form that is a bit more casual, a bit more curious, than lunch or dinner or any shared meal, is coffee.

Do you want to go out for coffee sometime?

He leaves the room.

But maybe soon he’ll pick up on what I mean, not what he thought I meant when I hesitated.

Maybe soon I will be able to ask that, and he will turn around and grin, shaking his head, and nod.

Coffee sounds good.


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