My gateway to coffee drinking was the full-fat, wonderfully sweet caramel macchiato he placed in my hand that day.
Little did I know at that moment that I’d go on to sip Sumatra in Bali (see picture), drink a $15 latte in Switzerland (yikes!), or look forward to visits from friends in San Francisco who bring Blue Bottle Coffee beans with them when they travel.
I never dreamed that I’d have the chance to live abroad twice before I hit 35, or that I’d see much of Asia and Europe thanks to my career and my husband’s. When my brother and I went to Starbucks that day in the late 90s, I felt like my weekend in Colorado with my him was such adventure — and it was.
I was a 16 year old from a small, rural Missouri town. I had no way of knowing then that my life would hold so many more incredible journeys. These days I drink my coffee without caramel in it, but I still feel a little more connected to home — and to my family — because my brother taught me to enjoy coffee.
- One of the best, and most accidentally expensive, cups of coffee I’ve ever had was in Switzerland. To this day, I remember the way the sun came down across the Alps and lit the outdoor cafe where I sat. (Note: I really need to get better at mentally calculating exchange rates.)
- When I lived in Taipei, I found a cafe named after the musician Tom Waits. In the years leading up to my move to Taiwan, I listened to a lot of his music, so I occasionally snuck away to the Tom Waits’ Cafe for a coffee on weekend mornings.
- I once spent 12 days in Mongolia’s South Gobi Desert. We traveled in Soviet-era vans and slept in ger camps. That was the adventure that taught me the beauty of those cheap little single-serving instant coffee packets. Just add water!
- Now, as we travel around central Europe, I look for coffee shops that might be nice places to relax, have a coffee, and people-watch.
I’ve traveled through more than 20 countries, and I’ve had coffee in all of them. From cafes in Venice to a Starbucks at The Great Wall of China; from instant coffee on camping trips to McDonald’s coffee on road trips, coffee is part of my travels.
One of my absolute favorite coffee experiences in the world, though, is a pretty simple one: When I visit Missouri, I love sharing that first pot of morning coffee with my parents, comfy in our PJs, at their kitchen table. Blue Bottle is amazing, and that $15 coffee in Switzerland was ridiculous. Folgers, however, is the coffee that means that no matter where life takes me, I’m always welcome back home.