Bear Says Before Perú

The End of My Life

January 13, 2015

Today I gave up coffee.

I have been drinking coffee since I was 7 years old. My earliest memory of coffee is with my Mom. My dad worked third shift for 25 years, and on occasion he would bring home a cup of coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts for my Mom because he would get home at some point in the morning from working all night. She would drink it with extra cream and extra sugar. She would be sitting at the dinner table, or in the recliner sipping it and reading, and I’d run up to her and beg her for a sip. It had extra cream and extra sugar after all; what kid doesn’t love that?

Through the years I’ve had a lot of coffee. I started with my mom’s preferences for coffee, then moved away from that to try other things. I got into Starbucks and all their crazy froo-froo drinks, like pumpkin spice lattes, mint mocha frappucinos, etc. Then I moved to International House coffees that come in a can and you just spoon it into your cup and stir. Eventually my tastes matured enough that I just drank coffee with cream, and as strong as I could get it. Coffee comes in so many different levels of awesomeness. I used to buy the cheapest coffee from Walmart because I’ve always been super frugal. Then I moved into buying $14/lb coffee because I became a coffee snob. I’ve probably spent enough on coffee over the years to have a really healthy savings account, or a brand new car.

My mother and I continued our coffee traditions into my teens and early 20’s. We would sit and talk early Saturday mornings about the stuff of life, the deep things that really matter. I asked her some of the hardest questions that people have in life. Why, if God is so good, is there so much pain in this world? Why is dating so complex; can’t we just enjoy each other? What’s my purpose in this world? I asked her questions that no person can really answer, questions that for so many of us have different answers. And we did all of this over a pot of coffee, 6am, Saturday, for years.

Sam and I continually push into the world of social justice. We keep investigating where the things we use every day come from. Sadly, we keep finding that so many people are put through hell so we can have some very simple things in life. Coffee is one of those things that can be incredibly unethically produced. The vast majority of coffee is produced using forced labor, working conditions that are just sickening, and sometimes this forced labor involves kids. Let’s be honest, forced labor is slavery. There is no difference. There are plenty of coffee companies that produce coffee ethically, and I fully support them.

A large part of giving up coffee comes from my recent change on stance with dairy. I quit dairy a month or two ago and I just haven’t been able to enjoy coffee since then. I’ve tried almond milk, rice milk, hazelnut cream, coconut cream. None of them seem to do to coffee what some regular old half and half can do. I like the nut milk alternatives if I’m getting a mocha, but now I’m adding sugar, chocolate, and nut milk. So do I really like coffee? I think I like hot chocolate. Heh.

The main reason I’m giving up coffee is the cost. An ethical bag of coffee goes for no less than $10/lb. And as much as I drink coffee, that’s about $40 – $50 per month for a simple drink. For me, that’s unreasonable. I can think of so much more I could do with that money than just drinking it and watching it that money go down the toilet an hour later.

Does this mean my mom and I can’t have amazing conversations anymore? Of course not. I’ll have a cup of tea. And you know what, maybe I’ll have a cup of coffee once in a while. Life is not black and white. It’s not all or nothing. It’s not left or right. It’s not fail or win. It’s real. And real means all the lines, all the colors bleed, just like we do. But that driving force that compels me to consume a cup of coffee every time I finish a cup of coffee is now over in this season of my life.

Giving up coffee is not the end of my life.

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