To say that one word is a culture in itself is an understatement. It gives us reason to rest. The easiest gift idea ever. Excuses for more cake. Plus evidence that personality can actually be found in a cup.
Personally, my caffeinated quest began little more than eight years ago. Rocking my youngest child, completely sleep deprived, I looked at his lovely face . . . and swore I’d never go without coffee again. The next day he was nursing a bottle and I was brewing up a whole new blogging career.
Ya’ll, I went six months without caffeine for my son. So when approached with a “Shop Local Challenge” from Business.org to give up my corporate coffee habit for 30 days? Puh-lease. Bring on the dream job in my little caffeinated mecca of Ann Arbor, MI. Because how easy was this going to be?
People. Was I ever wrong.
This challenge has been epic, from finding new coffee shops to testing drink consistency to seeing how it impacted financially. The convenience aspect was hardest. Corporate coffee really addresses lifestyle. It's been amazing to see the "Latte Effect" applied to just time and effort (like I had to walk in 99% of the time). I thought I was just replacing a specific coffee for a month. But I replaced a mindset.
And what was part of that new mindset? That I had to get out of the car and face people. I mean, the nerve of these stores actually wanting a line of conversation before 9 a.m.
It got worse when I realized I actually had to wear more than what’s trending in the school drop-off lane each morning. A MOMent of silence for yoga pants and messy buns aside, My name is Rachel and I’ve gotten fully dressed every morning for the last 28 days.
One of the biggest reasons I was looking forward to supporting my small-business baristas? To see if slowing down meant a better cup of coffee. Holiday drinks bring on holiday habits. It’s a seasonal effect we all look forward to.
Lately, I’ve noticed many people agreeing that corporate chains aren’t consistent in delivering the same advertised drink. What this local lifestyle clarified? That coffee shops that create a menu listing their own coffee roasts and specialty drinks did do a better job than their corporate counterparts. Great coffee takes time. And rushed registers or a backed up drive-thru won't offer you that same quality you expect.
In a world of $6 lattes, the $7 pour-over brings on enough adrenaline that you don’t need caffeine anymore. My first week in the small-business circuit meant searching out my favorite blends, cups, and requests. Normally, a large cup of drip coffee with two shots of espresso costs $3. I’m handed my espresso, then happily mix the French Roast with the House Blend at the DIY counter. Sprinkle in my sugar, cream and I’m out the door.
My first attempt at recreating this favorite locally cost $6.90. Apparently only one-drip brew was immediately available. The rest is brewed as a pour-over method upon request. The espresso added meant I wasn’t dumping out room for cream. One scalded tongue and lesson learned later? A$k que$tion$.
In the end, choosing who you take your coffee from each morning is literally choosing your mindset that day. Like focusing on positive thoughts bring better moods. The businesses you support are essentially the foundation for the life you’re creating. Supporting local coffee shops introduces a community that ends up supporting you.
I ended up drinking a lot less coffee this past month. Even with all the local coffee shops near me, it wasn’t always easy to access them—depending on the time of day, my agenda, or whether my children were with me. Ya’ll . . . a drive-thru is life to the hustle and bustle we need to juggle. And I just couldn’t walk in every time.
Not to mention that there is a huge hole in local options for single-serve coffee at grocers or gas stations. I’ve gained five pounds this month from getting soda or sweets when a local coffee option wasn’t available. About three weeks in, I just started to brew my own ground coffee at home. By then, however, I missed my local people.
What I would love to see? Coffee shops that have cost-effective menu items for kids. Larger shopping chains offering local, ready-made coffee options. Or let’s see local roasters partnering with dairy farms to offer cold brew and creamer bottle delivery service. Goodness knows the school drop-off lane would thank you.