When I was sixteen, I discovered coffee. Growing up, every morning I entered our family kitchen to the smell of percolating grounds. It was a comforting scent; one that still reminds me of home, of family and of good times. Though I don’t recall my first sip, once I had it, I was hooked. For my junior and senior year, I filled my orange travel mug to the top, sprinkled in a little sugar and cream, and had my fuel to get me through the bitterly boring mornings of high school. At that time, it was almost an anomaly; a teenager bringing coffee to school. Now with the invasion of Starbucks across our nation and the status symbol they have become, a teenager with a coffee in hand is about as likely to find as a teenager who stays up until 1 am and sleeps until noon.
I live in a teeny tiny town in New Jersey; and though our population has increased by 67.9% in the last ten years, we still are lacking a few elements of a more developed town. Namely, a non chain coffeehouse.
We are surrounded by three Dunkin’ Donuts within five miles of one another, with a fourth on its way. We have a Starbucks that is six miles away, and two Wawas with six miles between them.
Don’t get me wrong. I will drink coffee from any of these places; and I will love it. I might favor one place over the other, but, when in need for coffee, all of these places will do the trick.
Still part of me longs for the non chain feeling that an independent coffeehouse offers. I want to be a regular somewhere that isn’t all over Instagram (as if the general public has never seen a frappuccino before, guys!), somewhere that hasn’t become a white girl stereotype and somewhere that creates the best flavors known to man.
In their April, 2015 issue, New Jersey Monthly magazine covered the best coffee shops in New Jersey. There were 98! My mission is to not only visit as many of their selections as possible, but also to dig deeper into New Jersey and discover on my own coffeehouses worth frequenting. I know the ultimate problem I will face is that they will all more than likely be quite a distance from my home. This means that I might never discover the coffeehouse that could become ‘my’ coffeehouse. You know, the one where I have a regular spot I always sit in, the baristas all know my name, and I have tried just about everything on their menu. However, given the right deliciousness such an amazing coffeehouse could certainly be a factor in the decision of the location of our next home.
Yes, coffee is that important.
So follow along with me as I share the occasional coffeehouse adventure (of New Jersey) with you. There will be a lot of factors to consider when visiting each one, and have no fear, I’m ready to consider all angles before falling head over heels for all the different varieties of coffee that I meet.