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This I Believe: I Believe In A Good Cup Of Coffee

Essayist Maddie Biertempfel.

This essay originally aired on Oct. 25, 2018.

I believe in a good cup of coffee.

I was about five years old when I brewed my first pot of coffee. I remember reaching for the red plastic container labeled Folgers, lifting the lid and appreciating its rich aroma.

I carefully counted the spoonfuls of Folgers, while my brother, who’s just a year older, measured the water. The counter the coffee pot sat on was barely reachable, but we made it work.

I remember pressing start and hearing the growl of the machine as the dark liquid dripped into the carafe and steam rose from the top. Eventually, the machine beeped and my parents poured themselves a mug before they returned to the kitchen table to read the paper.

Looking back, it’s clear the coffee-making I did when I was five was well orchestrated by my dad, who saw teaching us how to make coffee as a win-win: he got his coffee in the morning, and my brother and I were occupied by the process.

It’d be ten years before I actually drank some myself, but I was always enamored by the aroma, the routine and the way the drink brought my family together.

I started drinking coffee in high school when the bus came at 7 a.m. and my day didn’t end until late. With seven hours of classes, a grueling cross country practice and homework every day, I needed to add some pep to my step and a cup of joe in the morning certainly helped.

Coffee energizes. It makes me think clearly, speak articulately and work efficiently. It gives me a boost when I’m about to go for a run, or begin a project. In the words of Mike Ditka, coffee is the lifeblood that fuels the dreams of champions.

Beyond using it to avoid dozing off in high school classes, coffee has always been a part of the seemingly small, but enjoyable parts of my life: a Sunday morning where my family gathers to read the paper, or a late-night Scrabble game on my birthday accompanied by my mom’s classic chocolate cake.

While I’m aware it’s not always the healthiest thing to rely on caffeine to get through the day, the taste of coffee reminds me of home.

And when I’m home I get to enjoy more than my college budget and time constraints allow. My dad and I make Starbucks runs to get a double shot of espresso (or as we insiders call it: the doppio), or a cup of Italian Lavazza coffee.

There’s something about sharing a cup of coffee with someone that just feels natural. And for good reason: it’s ingrained in the morning routines of millions. It’s a simple pleasure that I look forward to every single morning.

Like an Earth Wind & Fire song on the radio, a nice breeze on a sunny day, or a good cup of coffee in the morning, the small things are what make me really happy to be alive.

I believe in a good cup of coffee. 

Maddie Biertempfel is a junior at Penn State majoring in broadcast journalism and political science, and an intern at WPSU.

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