How I Got Into Coffee

Coffee is a part of my everyday routine, in and out of school semesters. I’m among a lot of professionals and students today who drink a cup of coffee or more everyday. Not that I go to a coffee shop every now and then and have “Adrian” signed on my cup. I’m frugal. Instead, when I’m at school, my regular cups of coffee are a hot 7-Eleven’s City Blend, a cold Nescafe French Vanilla or White Mocha, and (the main cup among them all) brewed coffee in the house. 

I thought of coffee as a bitter drink before, but as I grew up it would become a daily dose, my favorite drink aside from rootbeer.

My first coffee
My parents like coffee very much, as much as your parents do (I believe). I remember times when I was still so young when Pa and Ma tell me while we eat breakfast (or maybe evening dinner): “O, mag-kape ka...” (“Why don’t you have coffee?”) in a jokingly way. I would simply refuse. I didn’t like coffee yet at that time. But I tasted one. It was a cappuccino either my auntie or my brother got from briefly working on a night shift, if I am not mistaken. 

Later on, I happened to learn how to make coffee when either Pa or Ma called me to do it for them. I would ask how, and they would instruct me: 1 teaspoon of coffee, 1 or 2 of creamer, then 1 to 3 of sugar. I even remember Ma telling me to level the amount of either of those three on the teaspoon. But the first time I made a cup of coffee for myself was also the first time I didn’t sleep at all. 

I was in second year in high school—when academics demanded more. I was desperate to reach the deadline for lettering plates on Drafting that I turned out cramming. I have believed that coffee would make me stay awake. And with the parents asleep, and the TV on ANC, I made the coffee on my own. And it was not tasty! But what mattered was I got awake. So I went through the night trying to get those letterings done, like someone keeping a radio station on air overnight. I survived, with the help of a bitter coffee made by a once novice to that drink.

The yellow cup I usually use for the drink

I can’t recall any third year experience with coffee, but I do recall times when I got into drinking coffee during my fourth year in high school. Several times came when demands of school (and lack of managing time and beginning work as soon as possible) pushed me to go and finish outputs overnight. 

I remember one time when I was working (rushing, rather) on a blueprint for Civil Tech, laying out a tracing paper with bond papers containing several plans for a house. DZFE, the classical music station (which has just begun to extend its broadcasts ‘til 3am), was on the background. I took a break and made coffee. I put a sachet of a usual three-in-one coffee on a cup, filled the cup with hot water, then mixed it. And again coffee helped me get through the night. And this time it was tasty!

I hardly liked to sip a brewed coffee yet at that time. At home it was then made by boiling water on a pot, then settling it down for a while, then putting 3-5 spoons of ground coffee on that water. As a result, you likely get the remains of the ground coffee on your cup when the pot is already less than half-full. So, I would usually buy sachets—from Nescafe to Maxwell’s House. I would even carry a mug and a few sachets with me to school, and take advantage of the hot water coming from the dispenser. 

The habit of drinking coffee began to form, especially when I was done with high school and off to college.

(L-R) My mug, my mother's cup, and my father's mug.
We and our coffees gathered as we watched
UAAP Cheerleading Competition last year.

During the longest summer vacation I got after an academic period, I have made and drunk more coffee. Later on, I learned to make and to appreciate brewed coffee on the pot. With a fresh brew on the cup or mug, I would add 2 or 3 teaspoons creamer and 2 or 3 teaspoons sugar. Since then, that’s my usual mix of coffee. But sometimes I also make a cup with instant coffee (different from 3-in-1), so I would have a teaspoon of it in the cup or mug.

With such blend, I have formed my general definition of my coffee—creamy, and sweet enough.

Coffee was with me as I ate breakfast, as I read a book or write something, and as I surf the Net. Aside from a way to get awake, it has become a way to get moving through the day. It really fits in those things I do—especially reading and writing. I don’t simply got into drinking coffee because it keeps me up, but more importantly it happened to be a great complement to my lifestyle.  

Then came the coffee machine during my first year in college, revolutionizing the way brewed coffee was made in the house. I would learn the ratio for coffee and water—1:1. Drinking coffee became more pleasant, as well as more frequent, whether I stay late at night or not. 

Others would settle on a frappe or simply iced, but I was content on a brewed blend. But sometimes I’ll have a cold version. Once I bought in a stall in the community mall, and once I’ve bought in a convenience store. But still, I’m often frugal.

In my commutes back to home,
I would often buy a cup of coffee.
Instant blend
In my second year as a college student, I further practiced that frugality. I would usually have a cup of City Blends on 7-Eleven, where I often have lunch with my closest companions. Actually, buying a coffee there secures our stay. We don’t buy our lunches on the store; we bring packed lunch. And I see it unfit that we have lunch there but won’t buy anything there. So either my classmate, I, or both of us, will buy coffee there. 

Sometimes, since there are only three choices for hot coffee, we would buy either Kopiko 78, Nescafe French Vanilla, or White Mocha. We were even glad when an Iced Coffee was added to their selections. I have no favorite among them, though. They are all the same for me, at least in what they are called. They are all good coffees, as long as taken in moderation. Besides, they less likely aid me in keeping myself up in afternoons, unfortunately. That’s because when I get back to the campus library about an hour after lunch to read (and sit back), I often end up dozing off.

Before I ride on a bus back home, I would even go to a 7-Eleven near the bus station and buy a cup (and also some food). Maybe that’s the only instance where I buy coffee to keep me awake and do something productive while I’m on the bus (as a commuter, you’ve got to have some way to save and even redeem time). This time, the coffee’s more likely to keep me awake.

Coffee is now a part of my life, and it came right before I undergo what they call “adulting”. Cups of it, or bottles, or tetra packs of it, have been with me as I struggle past academic years. 

If others got to like coffee by influence of socialization (not saying that I was totally immune from it), I got into it with an amount of “parental guidance”, as well as a liking into its self-defined taste. If others have it chilled on a tall or grande cup on a coffee shop (with details of how it is to be done), I find some joy or comfort in a hot, creamy and sweet cup from the house (or on the convenience store). But maybe, when I have the resources, I could learn discover more about this drink—beyond the usual blend. But I’m not into that for now.

I understood from a chapter of a Sociology textbook that coffee has been bringing people together in some ways I can’t instantly explain now. Yet on a personal level, I believe that coffee has been a companion—a good one, compared to other beverages. It is one of those things you grab, keep, and consume to get you through the day (like music or talk on the radio, or that portable battery-powered mini-fan on your bag). 

A record label names itself Fueled By Ramen. In my case, I may describe myself: Fueled by coffee.

How about you, reader? How long have you been a coffee drinker? And how did you get into it? Give me a comment, if you may. :)

Disclaimer: This blog isn’t any paid advertisement just because I mentioned coffee brands. :)

Life Without Internet

While I was in high school I was much engrossed in science fiction, especially those under the themes of cyberspace. I chanced upon a secondhand book, a collection of short stories entitled Live Without A Net. And I bought it. The stories there center on the theme the title suggests—a future without cyberspace, without virtual reality, without the Web. And it made me think: what would happen to a world without the Internet? That seems impossible of course, but for a while I faced a dilemma similar to that. 

I remember a time during my recently-concluded 2nd year in college (first semester in particular) when I had no access to the Internet at home due to some lapses in payment, which later on turned out to be some sort of misunderstanding in how much to pay. It hasn’t been easy to be away from the World Wide Web for months, but I managed to get through it, and I learned much from the experience.

From September until the middle of November last year, there was no Internet in the house. I had to endure academic life without easy access to the Internet, so I had to find it elsewhere (and that was tedious). That meant lending saved money for it and spending spare time for it, either at the library or the computer shop. But there's no way—it seems to me—to get connected with my classmates and do most of my schoolwork but online. Besides, our aged PC is slow and broken, and I didn’t have a laptop to use for a while. And when I have had one again, there was still no Net.

So, after lunch I often extended my stay in the city for at least 2 more hours either in the library or the computer shop near the campus. Sometimes I went right away back home  and, upon arriving, went out again to one of the two computer shops I know in the neighborhood. On one of them I even had my usual seat. I brought with me my 4 GB USB, my headphones, and necessary notes, even my planner. I would try to stay online at the least possible time, but it usually went from two to three hours. Sometimes four.

At the comp shop, I usually would open Google Chrome (or Mozilla Firefox) and Microsoft Word. Often there’s music on the background, care of YouTube.

That 1st semester, I had a lot to do on Word. From research inputs for Marketing; project proposals for Broadcast Media; to scripts for a video project on Natural Science; to more researches and write-ups on Asian History and even NSTP. 

Of course, I also logged on to Facebook. Aside from scrolling the News Feed, I got information about assignments or announcements on our block’s group page. Our block's communication, when out of the class, is heavily relied online (social media in particular). 

I also contacted my classmates/groupmates there about tasks we or I had to accomplish on our projects. For instance, since I lead a part of our block—the research part of our block’s broadcast plan (our major project on Broadcast Media)—I, as my fellow leaders did, created groupchats (which I call group threads) and group pages on Facebook. There I posted announcements and pleaded them to comment a word of my choice in response to that post (for example: 'Chow!' or 'Checkmate'). We also send and gather personal outputs either on those places. Moreover, I collaborated with my fellow leaders or groupmates on Google Docs. 

On several occasions, a time would be set for the group (or the block) to show up on the groupchat on Facebook, and meet up about a major project. I even remember a time when I went back home early before traffic builds up, because I had to be online at about 6pm. No time to rest for a while upon arriving home. but on ? 

This change in my routine was a trade-off, a sacrifice. Instead of commuting back home after lunch
and do schoolwork at home (as planned), I would go to the library or the shop the whole afternoon. Sometimes I would reach evening, and I reached home at around 7 to 9pm. Or when I would go home then out again to a shop, I returned home at around the same times. In fact, instead of having money saved for Christmas, I had to sacrifice it to accomplish necessary work online. It seems that everything’s online. 

A college student doing much research, paperwork, and group work, the World Wide Web was a necessary resource for finding and gathering information, producing outputs, and connecting and communicating with people.

Maybe I’m so late to state, but indeed times have changed. This is a time where the generation of people—I included—are living with the Internet as necessary as the radio in the 20th century or the cellphone at the present. It has become the primary means of connection and a source of information (aside from the library) these times. Internet has already been an essential for students!

It’s been considered a tremendous and valuable resource these days. It shouldn’t be ignored, however, that the library is also an essential for a student, especially in research. (I even consider it’s contents like treasures in a mine) Yet the sources of Internet are necessary to be integrated with whatever you find in a library, because the Internet has much recent material, be it articles, and even video and audio clips.

Unless anything else gets you busy, the Internet is even the stuff of the day, usually on rainy and stormy days. Isn't it good to be in the house during the typhoon, just to stay dry and safe? You even have the extra time to finish remaining loads of schoolwork. But now, without the Internet, living the day appears to be almost boring! And the day is almost lost in direction, unless you have come up with things to get you busy again. If there was only the zeal to read the book, or a station similar to UK’s BBC Radio 4...

Apparently, I did miss the Internet very much. But I’m thankful that this sort of sacrifice I did for a large part of my 1st sem paid off. I passed and survived the sem, earning a harvest that I should be thankful for. Besides, it seems that at the end of every sem, what matters is that you’ve survived.

I was also glad the Internet was accessible again at the comforts of the home before the semester ended, just in time for the semester’s most pressing outputs I had to accomplish (and cram, sadly) with my classmates numerous kilometers away. The Internet provider was replaced, and I find the service efficient enough.

Sometimes we have to face such challenges. In these kind of circumstances we learn to make ways and take alternatives. It’s like the rats in a maze searching for cheese around the different parts of the maze when the cheese in one part was gone. Besides, it helps to take a break from the Net once in a while—even more than that.

The current challenge for me, now as I have been accessing the Internet, has been to manage the time and content I consume online. Why? Sometimes, going online gets you nowhere, letting time pass away without any productivity. Here is another struggle, and it is real.

You reader, have you ever had that experience of having to find Internet access away from home? How would you face a day (or more) without the Internet? I want to hear from you.