We live in the era of third wave coffee and Starbucks offering a secret pumpkin caramel macchiato at the same time. Stores are offering tens of coffee alternatives and types of granulated coffee products. We can’t deny the fact that we have more choices for drinking coffee than ever. But which one is the right one?
The third wave coffee drinkers will often shame anyone who can’t drink a single origin espresso. Starbucks drinkers are merely looking for a caffeine boost, rather than a sugar rush. And then there’s the rest of the population who doesn’t care about the glucose-fructose syrup added to the powdered, uh, coffee. But I don’t want to talk about them. I want to talk about third wave coffee drinkers who opt for milk alternatives and go for a latte. I’m one of them and here’s my confession. Despite many comments on my coffee drinking habits, I no longer care what others think. Here’s why.
But I don’t want to talk about them. I want to talk about third wave coffee drinkers who opt for milk alternatives and go for a latte. I’m one of them and here’s my confession. Despite many comments on my coffee drinking habits, I no longer care what others think. Here’s why.
My Coffee Beginnings
I wish I had a really good story to tell you but I don’t. I started drinking espresso, single shot, nice and bitter. Probably sometimes around the time I started university. I would occasionally go for a latte but soon I found I’m lactose intolerant. At that time (about 7 years ago) I lived in Slovakia and milk alternatives in coffee shops were almost impossible to find. They would only go as far as soya milk which has a rather bitter taste. Plus, the fact that soybeans are often genetically modified makes me cringe. I don’t care much about what the label says. I’m just not a fan.
Getting Posh In Prague
I move to Prague a while after I quit university. Suddenly, my coffee drinking took a spin. I couldn’t argue with the low price for such a great quality. Most coffee shops had ethically grown beans – roaster locally, of course. Plus I could buy them in small batches to keep them fresh and grind them just before I brewed them in my French Press. All of the sudden, the coffee tones made a difference. I found Ethiopia better than Brazil and tested everything between Guatemala, Costa Rica and Kenya. I became a bit of a coffee snob, the good way.
London’s Not For Tea Drinkers
To my surprise, when I moved to London in 2014, I found out that England was not what I thought it was. Although I could find tea shops on every corner and supermarkets were well-stocked, the coffee culture had already hit the country by storm. I made a “go to list” on Foursquare with 70 places to try and felt a little desperate. Even if I tried one new place a week, it would take me a year and a half to taste coffee from all the coffee shops I picked.
But there was one additional thing I noticed about coffee in London. It was no longer only about the notes and origin. The coffee shops in London offer amazing latte art. Flat white is the new espresso. And options for dairy-free alternatives are endless. Now choose.
My Coffee, My Choice
Coffee in London is often served in a beautiful black Acme cup and latte art is a norm. But most importantly, almond milk, oat milk, coconut milk or even cashew and hazelnut milk are on every step. Combined with my passion for visual content, Instagram, and London’s dull weather and the need to get warm, it’s hard to go for a single espresso. It doesn’t last long. It tends to get a little boring. And, above all, it doesn’t warm you up. So although I’m still an espresso lover in summer and when it’s hot, I can’t excuse myself to drink it diluted and foamed. But wait, that’s not the end. Two years in London and my coffee habits turned even worse. Guess why? I’m going decaf.
When Coffee Makes You Anxious
This summer I found out I have anxiety. If you never had anxiety, it can look like this (although symptoms depend from person to person): you’re sweating, your heart is pumping and you think you’re having a heart attack, you can’t catch your breath, and your head is about to explode from all the worries and negative thoughts you have. Unfortunately, caffeine makes this even worse. If you have an anxiety, your symptoms remain, except they go hyper. It’s an uneasy feeling.
I tried to hold on to regular coffee for as long as I could. Many times I would hear from well-educated coffee drinkers that decaf is a total miss. Baristas won’t lie to you: there’s a chemical process that removed the caffeine from the bean. It’s also undeniable that decaf doesn’t always taste delicious. There’s something about the taste which is usually more bitter and blunt. But, the good news is, it doesn’t make you more anxious.
These days I often ask for “decaf almond latte”. This is how I enjoy my coffee. Warming, cheerful, and aesthetically pleasing. After all, that’s what coffee moments were made for. So if someone tells me that’s now how you drink coffee, I say: “Relax. Have you had your coffee yet?” And the world goes on.