Coffee has always been one of my favorite things. For years I bought organic, fair trade, fresh, dark roasted beans from local purveyors and I used a French press for brewing. I drank my coffee with milk. Lots of milk. In fact, I joked that I took some coffee with my milk. Without it I didn’t like the flavor of the coffee I chose — it was too deeply roasted, too bitter, too thick. It sat on my tongue like a dirty sock. But it tasted good with milk, so that’s how I drank it. I tried alternative roasts from time to time, but with the milk, I preferred it dark and viscous.
A year and a half ago I was introduced to new coffee roasts, varietals and brewing methods and I discovered some coffee is much better without milk. By removing the mask of milk, I could taste flavor nuances and varying acidities, I could see the spectrum of colors and appreciate the intoxicating aromas. Having a cup of coffee turned into an enjoyable experience, not just a warm creamy liquid vector for caffeine.
Nothing’s inherently wrong with drinking milky coffee, I just found that I enjoy it far more with the excess removed. This is a metaphor about life — removing the superfluous enhances our ability to taste and to live.
A few years ago, I existed by diluting uncomfortable experiences and pacifying myself to sufficiently tolerate my reality. I avoided some things that required difficult work, settling for good enough. I shied away from the signals telling me things weren’t right, thinking “it’s okay, nothing’s perfect.” My logic was flawed and pernicious. And it ate away at my life, one choice at a time.
When I began distilling my choices and experiences down to their essence by removing the dilutions, distractions, and pacifiers, I was better able to see the underlying problems and to formulate solutions.
I was drinking the wrong coffee. With the right coffee I don’t need milk.