They’re not entirely wrong. Drinking coffee is often a mark of entrance into adulthood. As a child I guessed at this, often requesting samples of my parents’ morning cups with clear anticipation. So bitter! So burnt! But no matter, I thought. I’ll grow into it.
Why would a person not hooked on a highly addictive substance try to get herself hooked? True, I’d be opening the door to stained teeth, coffee breath and chemical dependency. But I’d also be saying hello to boosted energy levels, a more regulated digestive system and, according to some studies, a reduced chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia in my old age. Plus, I wouldn’t get sideways looks so often, or feel like the odd woman out.
According to the National Coffee Association, 58 percent of the 2,663 adult Americans in its annual survey drank at least one cup of joe every day in 2011, and 68 percent of them drank at least one cup per week. In my age range, 25 to 39, the numbers are nearly identical: 66 percent drink a cup at least once a week and 54 percent drink it daily.
I don’t want to dislike coffee. I regularly steal sips from friends’ cups just to make sure my taste buds haven’t miraculously mutated overnight. If anyone could somehow convince me, I figured I’d be up for the challenge.
Dennis Marron took me up on it.
He’s the new chef at Poste Moderne Brasserie in Penn Quarter and a profound coffee lover who began drinking the stuff in high school, more than 20 years ago. His profession has only inflamed the casual habit. “I have anywhere from five to 12 cups a day,” he says. “It’s probably too much. It’s like a cup an hour at work.”
To have really good-quality coffee that’s roasted properly and handled with care, Marron preached, is how you get to “really like coffee.”
I was skeptical. But at this point, what did I have to lose?
When I met Marron at Poste on a cold afternoon in January, he marched me right past a Starbucks to Chinatown Coffee Co. “You should get to learn what real coffee tastes like first,” he told me.
The tiny brick-walled spot on H Street NW is known for its dedication to hand-poured coffees and its carefully curated selection of beans. There, general manager Josh Croston overheard us. He, too, wanted to help convert me. He had been successful before, having turned his tea-drinking girlfriend on to Geisha coffee beans from Panama.