According to an article published in 2014 the color of your coffee mug had an influence over the taste of the coffee.
The article states that because we “eat with our eyes first” the coffee in white mugs tastes better because the richness of the coffee is enhanced by the contrasting color. People who drank the exact same coffee in the black mugs claimed the coffee tasted bitter.
I chose to do a little experiment for myself this morning.
I had the exact same coffee in three different mugs, to up the ante so to speak. The coffee had the exact same yummy taste in all three mugs. It could be that I didn’t do a blind taste test, however, I mostly wanted to see if since I “eat with my eyes first” if there was any significance to the coffee looking bitter in the black mug or the two-tone mug. Nope. The coffee looked delicious in all three mugs. Also, I take my coffee with cream and sugar so it looks appealing in the black mugs as well in the white and two-tone mugs. That could enhance the “flavor” in all mugs.
For me, coffee is an experience and it’s all about the mug not the color. I have certain moods for certain mugs. I’ve learned over the years what coffee origin I like, what roast I like and what coffee maker I like so the coffee, for the most part, is very consistent and the flavor is as well.
What changes are my moods and what mug I want to use depending on mood.
Someday I think it would be cool to be in a coffee study so until then, I’ll continue to drink my yummy coffee from any color mug that fits my mood and I am sure it will not taste bitter.
This sticky note is taped on the wall at my desk to reaffirm the things I do.
Why does it feel good to be a unicorn and what does it mean to be a unicorn you ask?
For me, it means that I am happy with being unique and I embrace my weirdness and the choices I’ve made in my life.
My path was (and still is) a long and meandering one. Much like a quest or bildungsroman, my coming of age was very different from what I would call “standard.” Meaning, I went into the military after high school, then worked in corporate, then went university, then back to corporate, then retirement (which just means doing things on my terms), to now being creative and working on the things I put off for 30-plus years.
Now I do things for me—not because I have to.
I never embraced my unicorn-ness until now. I’ve always been different and I’ve been proud of that, but now I don’t let the fear hold me back like I did for the earlier part of my life.
For example: I wanted to be a radio DJ back in high school. I think I would have been good at because I love music and I believe in the power of music. My mom was not having any of it and told me I had to find a real career and get a real degree.
Well here I am 35 years later doing a podcast because I freaking can and I am having fun doing it. People have been telling me they like my voice, they like the show and they like the content. I am beyond jubilant with this feedback.
That joy was 51 years in the making and I regret nothing. I now have the confidence to put myself out there and have fun. I am powerful, creative force for good with loving intentions and a joyful spirit, trying to create a better world for myself and others.
When I think about how much fear held me back and how much farther I could be now, I just have to remind myself that I needed to grow on my terms and cool my jets. It seems that my life is a constant hyper-speed of delayed gratification. I work hard and fast for a very long period of time for some sort of reward. My life is very much my tattoo: Festina Lente—to make haste slowly.
You’d think I’d be tired always going at this pace but it works for me. I have two speeds: go and stop.
I will keep unicorning until I can’t unicorn any more.
This is what a fatherless daughter times two looks like…
This is what grief looks like…
In four years I lost 3 family members. Not including being estranged from my bio-dad in 2010 after grad school graduation. He up and left with his new family and never made contact with me again. That’s why my step-dad of 40 years became my “Jad” (his name was Joe so I called him “Jad”). That’s a lot of loss in a short period of time.
I learned how to handle my first loss in 2017 with the help of friends, family, a therapist and a personal trainer. I spent 5 glorious weeks in Rome learning to heal through food, coffee, culture and a long-term friendship. For once someone took care of me. I didn’t have to think, just heal. It worked. I was healing.
I went back to work ready to face new challenges and be a better person having gone through the hardest thing I had ever experienced in my life. Not to mention the trauma and PTSD from that experience. It was so bad that I couldn’t watch hospital scenes on TV. Even though my brain knew it was for drama, it was still too close to home. I spent a lot of time in the hospital; I’d log 14-16 hours in the room keeping my late wife company. I even slept with ear plugs, eye mask, face mask and gloves. It wasn’t great sleep so we all decided that I should sleep at home even if it was only for four hours.
My best friend would come and get me to help me recharge; we would go to Denny’s, Chili’s, or grab coffee somewhere. As a caregiver you have to learn to take care of you too. It was hard to leave, but it was important for my mental health as well even if my heart didn’t like it.
I became a widow at 47. We had an amazing 10 years together. It wasn’t all sadness and sickness. We went to Fiji, Tahiti, Hawaii, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Hong Kong. We had a great life and I am thankful to have been there for her. Vanessa was a sensitive and beautiful person and she wanted me to mourn her, but not be lonely. She wanted me to be happy and find love again.
I thought that would never happen because who wants a widow? We’re damaged, sad, stuck in the past, or you’re competing with a ghost. These were my thoughts. I figured I’d be alone for the rest of my life, untouchable by another because the other person would think I couldn’t be in love them as much as I loved someone before. I had massive fear of rejection. Massive fear of loneliness and massive sadness.
Never knowing or realizing that I was very much wrong.
Enter Brandi. She didn’t run because I was a widow. She didn’t feel like she was competing with a ghost. She didn’t say the wrong things, in fact she said the most perfect things to me. I had no idea someone would ever love me the way she does. I had no idea that my late wife gave me tools to help me understand Brandi’s sensitive heart. And because Brandi and I went through so much trauma we are able to really help each other and work together to fix a situation or work through a problem. We both see signs that Ness approves of this relationship. I know that Ness and Brandi would have been great friends had they ever had the chance to meet.
When I told my in-laws about Brandi they were very happy for me. We met up for dinner and I told them all about how we met at her coffee shop and showed them pictures of her and us. They were thrilled that I was happy again. Mind you, I had tried to push them away after I came back from Rome. They knew what I was doing and they weren’t having any of it. We still talk and text regularly. Every few months or so just to check in, catch up on who’s doing what, our various travels and just connect. This family has been my pillar. They are understanding since we all went through the same trauma and we were all there when the crap hit the fan. They broke the mold with this family and I am so glad they stuck around and didn’t let me push them away. Love you MKamps!!
Grief is a bitch.
There is no wrong way to go through it, only the way you feel.
I woke up every day waiting to be on the other side of it. The sad, sleepless nights, the unhungry moments that lead to poor diet and unhealthy weight loss sucked, but I had to go through it my way to understand what rock bottom, for me, felt like. It felt like shit and the only thing that got me through was coffee.
I met friends for coffee, even if I couldn’t drink it, I still ordered it because I loved the smell. I loved how my favorite coffee shops felt like a warm blanket in my sad lonely world. Coffee was my solace in Rome. And coffee is what brought Brandi into my life.
Coffee and I have had a very long and open-relationship; we’ve always been there for each other.
Grief and coffee are very much linked for me. My mom loved coffee, she introduced me to coffee (see https://coffeefitnessunicorn.com/2021/10/26/coffee-lover-not-coffee-snob/comment-page-1/#comment-241). At the hospital we would see a little coffee cart outside a patient’s room (we didn’t know that was actually something you didn’t want to see as that meant it was very bad for the patient and that was a way for the hospital to provide comfort). I had to switch to decaf when I was a very fresh widow as my emotions made me feel sick to my stomach daily for several months. Then I was able drink half-caff for a few months after that until I could handle full strength once again. Grief and coffee were battling with me. Grief felt like it was winning, but coffee never gave up.
Grief maybe a bitch, but coffee is a badass warrior who always fights for me.
Mom. Mom. Wake up. We need to go to the Emergency Room.
These are the words I said to my mom as I stood at her bedside at 4am with the worst pain of my life.
My mom, who normally takes 15 minutes to wake up, throws back the covers, proceeds to fly out of bed, grab the keys, and drives us safely and swiftly to the hospital emergency room.
What killed me the most about that experience was the look of sheer terror on my mom’s face.
They ran tests and more tests and had no diagnosis, a lot of guesses but no real answers. So they sent me home to see my GP later that morning after they got pain under control.
He knew what was wrong and he knew it was bad. He sent us to a Urologist who saw us immediately and he said the funniest and scariest thing you never want to hear a Urologist say.
He said, “you feel that? That’s your kidney. We shouldn’t be seeing or feeling it.” Then he asks the funniest question: “do you drink beer?”
No, I drink coffee, lots of it.
Well, that’s the problem. If you drank beer we would have caught this a long time ago.
How much coffee did you drink last night?
I’m studying for finals for undergrad, so I had three Venti lattes.
Yup, that’ll do it. Your blocked kid. You’re going to need surgery.
Whaaaaaaaat!!!!! I have finals!!! I can’t have surgery. It’ll have to wait.
That’s not up to me kid, you’ll want to talk to my colleague she’s the expert. I’m old school, I’ll cut you halfway around the middle, take half a rib and leave you a 12″ scar and it’ll take you 4-6 months to heal. She does robot-assisted, reconstructive kidney surgery. She’ll leave you with a few small holes and a few weeks recovery time. Go talk to her to see if you’re a good candidate for her surgery. Best of luck to you kid, good luck with finals.
So off we went to see robot-lady. She asked a lot of questions and drew a diagram of what she thought my problem was. She said, “you have UPJ. A congenital condition. It’s a miracle you weren’t diagnosed with this earlier. You’re 37 that’s amazing.”
The simplest way to describe it is: you have a kink in your kidney straw.
So she runs tons of tests to see if she could even perform the surgery as there is a major artery that she needs to be sure is safe to not be affected. After many nuclear tests and tons of peeing in cups, it was determined that I was an excellent candidate for this procedure. She asks when I would like to have the surgery?
At the end of the year. She looks at me and says, “no, seriously.”
I am serious. It’ll have to wait. I already missed some finals and have to make them up. This will have to wait until December. It was July. She agrees begrudgingly and says, “no later. We’re booking it now.”
I said you got it. I literally had my robot-assisted, reconstructive kidney surgery the day after my last final of the year in December as promised. I was back in school 4 weeks later to finish out my last year of undergrad.
The surgery was a success! Everyone was jubilant, especially me as I could now drink 3 Venti lattes without issue while studying for finals which was awesome since I still had two more years of university.
Can you imagine an avid coffee drinker not drinking coffee?
What was it like you ask?
It was horrible.
Why did I do it?
Well, I thought I would try a 30 day detox program that came highly recommended.
I had to clean out the fridge, the pantry and myself.
Part of that cleansing was to purge the body of toxins. I thought no biggie, I am not a sugar freak and bread and chips and salsa are my only real weakness so this should easy peasy.
I was totally in. I bought the products and I had the meals planned out; I was ready for this program.
Then the “coach” sent out the message: no coffee for the next 30 days.
WHAT. THE. Literal F*#% do you mean no coffee for the next 30 days???!!!!
Coffee is not toxic!! Coffee is the opposite. It has many benefits, we know because it has been studied.
I sent a message back saying I would have never signed up for this if I had known that this was part of the deal. SERIOUSLY!! But I already paid some exorbitant amount for the program so I might as well try.
She said, “just try it for a day. If you can survive the headaches and grumpiness, keep going for the next few days after that.”
I had to warn everyone I worked with that I was trying a new detox thing and no coffee was part of it. I was not happy. I was in a bad mood every freaking morning. Which is very out of character for me. I always wake up ready for the day and excited for my first cup of coffee. Now I had nothing to look forward to other than mood swings, crankiness, agitation, and a poopy mood in general.
It was one week in and I was over the initial shock of the lack of coffee. I kept a journal to see how I was “feeling” when I already knew how I was feeling: f@#$%^ pissed. There were a lot of ugly words written during that time. Words that scared and surprised me 0_o
I was through the second week and still being “coached” through the program. I bombarded her daily as to when I could have just a sip of black coffee. I never drink black coffee, but I was so desperate to have my friend back I was willing to drink it black.
Finally after two weeks she said, “go ahead drink your coffee if you want, but you won’t have the same results since you weren’t able to stick to the complete program.”
I said, “EF the results!! Never, ever take away my coffee again” and walked away from the program.
That was the first and only time I quit coffee. It was the worst two weeks of my life. I’m sure my team, my boss, and my coworkers were just as happy to have my happy, coffee-loving-self back.
Then I hired a real Coach and Personal Trainer; I asked her if she would ever take my coffee away and she said, “no, never. I love coffee” I knew I had the right Coach. After eight months following her program I had amazing results and was in the best shape of my life with all the coffee I wanted.
She took nothing away; she allowed me to have anything I wanted. The only thing I had to earn were my soy cappuccinos (which are now oatmilk cappuccinos) and cheat meals. I was eating up to seven meals a day and I was super toned at 48!!
I apologized to coffee for quitting it for those two weeks and promised to never quit it again.
Thank you coffee for understanding and thank you Coach for NEVER, EVER taking my coffee away.
For me, it means, not letting fear hold me back from a goal or trying something.
Let me go waaaaay back to how these words came about.
I was asked by my girlfriend at the time what I wanted to do with my life; I was 34 and halfway through my Associate degree but contemplating a master’s degree. She already had her MA in Education so she knew how much longer I had to go. I had no idea what academia was going to be like and we were just bouncing dreams around.
The phrase we used at the time was actually “Crack Smoking Dream” so I responded, “my Crack Smoking Dream would be to fly helicopters.”
She said you should do it. I said really, you support this. She said if that is what you want to do, then do it.
So then next day I looked up helicopter flight schools, booked a demo flight and was hooked riding co-pilot for 30 minutes in the cockpit. I started training that week. (See But I Fly Helicopters blog.)
My mom was terrified, but she was on board for me to start training to be a CFI (Certified Flight Instructor), I had a lot of fear but I also had a lot of support. I spent 12 months training like a CFI to unfortunately run out of money at the very last hurdle. I. Was. Crushed. I had passed the FAA written test, the medical flight test, and all I had to do was the actual flight test.
I was stopped dead by $1000. Mind you this was the last $1000 of a very expensive training program. I couldn’t ask for anymore money from anyone. I was on my own. So what to do?
Get a job, work on plan B which was my MA, then if I really wanted to finish my training go back and take the test. I had one year to go back before all my training would be lost.
So I got a good paying, part time job and resumed my studies toward my MA. My gf and I had broken up so I moved back home with my parents and started the process of building myself up all over again.
This time the plan was to have a degree to always have something to fall back on and if I ever felt like flying helicopters again, I would.
I was determined to not let anyone or anything get in the way of this plan. I spent ten years straight in school, working both full time and part time while getting my AA (at one time I was working 5 gigs: I was freelancing for 4 music publications, and worked a part time job—sleep was optional 0-o), then my BA, then MA (I tutored part time and was a Teaching Associate—once again sleep was optional). I was fried but dammit I had done it. I had eaten my dream: I got my Master’s in Literature at 40.
I had a lot of fear during those ten years, but I always had support. I had dreams and goals. I knew I could do anything after my Air Force career (I lived in Turkey for 18 months this was right after Desert Storm), helicopter flight training, and lastly surviving grad school.
After reflecting on how far I’d come and what was next, I decided that “Crack Smoking Dream” was not the best phrase and started saying “Eating My Dreams.”
I’ve always described myself as a coffee lover or coffee fan; I would not say I’m a coffee snob. Here’s my thought process.
I’ll drink any and all types of coffee.
Gas station coffee, fancy coffee, automatic drip coffee, Keurig coffee, Instant coffee, Espresso, Turkish coffee, leftover coffee, Air Force coffee, fast food coffee, decaf coffee occasionally, and of course coffeeshop coffee.
I have been drinking coffee since I was 16 years old.
Most of it was really bad coffee, mind you, but dammit—I was drinking coffee because that is what the cool kids did.
See I was not your typical teenager, I was the poet-writing, deep-feeling romantic who just didn’t quite fit in and I embraced that about myself. I preferred the company of adults and the adults I hung out with drank coffee. Lots of it.
Mostly I blame it all on Adam Ant.
I was in love with Adam Ant at 12 or 13. His favorite drink was cappuccino. I had heard of it, seen it on menus, but had no idea what it was. So I did what any kid who has access to a full set of Encyclopedia Brittanicas (the Google of Gen X) does: I looked it up. I learned all about the name, the drink, and was fascinated. Now I wanted to try a cappuccino!
I asked my mom about this drink, she told me all about growing up in Argentina and how they went to Espresso Bars where you ordered at the counter, drank while standing up and then went about your daily routine in the city. Wow! I thought my mom was so cool, she drank every kind of espresso drink and knew all about the glasses they were served in and what time of the day you drank them. It was so much more than coffee. It was a culture. I was in love and I hadn’t even tried any of the drinks she told me about: Espresso, Macchiato, Cortado, Cappuccino, Latte, Viennese, Affogato. I was in love with the words!!
I was steeped in coffee culture as a child of an Argentine and had access to espresso on the regular as my parents owned a small home machine. I watched as they would grind the beans into a fine powder, fill the odd-shaped metal thing with a handle (Portafilter, I was a kid and had no idea all these parts had names, and each glass had a name) with the coffee powder, then smash the powder, stick the thing into the machine, place the very small glass under the odd metal thing, push a button and a few minutes later, dark foamy liquid started spilling out of the odd metal thing.
My mom would say, “look at that crema!” She seemed happy about this so that must mean it’s good. Then they would steam some milk and add just the smallest scoop of foam to the drink. My mom would take the “demi tasse” mug, give it a “profundo” inhale and say, “now that’s a coffee.”
Me, me, me. I’m next!! I would say. I want a cappuccino. It was my turn now and I would watch the same process again. Grind the coffee. Bang the metal thing, fill the metal thing, insert the metal thing, push the button, and bam, espresso comes out. Steam some more milk, add the milk and foam, tah dah cappuccino.
Next thing I knew I was hanging out at local Cafes and Espresso Bars drinking my cappuccinos and writing. The problem was these coffee shops weren’t always open all hours so I had to find other places that served coffee all night. I went to Denny’s, Bob’s Big Boy, Carrow’s, and other late night places to write and drink coffee.
The coffee was not good, but I drank it nonetheless.
I learned to drink any coffee and manage to make it palatable with cream and sugar. If I was a coffee snob I would be very disappointed by every coffee that I didn’t make. And I would have horrible coffee experiences around the world. Well I did have a few of those, but that is a blog for another time.
As I grew up I learned more and more about coffee, roasting, origins, cupping, and the different coffee cultures around the world.
I loved coffee so much I wanted to have my own coffee shop and live above it. At one time I wanted to have a Yoga/Coffee Shop on the beach in some tropical location and then I did have a coffee shop. (See https://coffeefitnessunicorn.com/2019/10/21/heartsleeves-coffee-comes-to-oc/). I had a life-changing soy cappuccino from the sexiest barista alive and we have coffee together on the daily. So thank you Mom, Adam Ant and Brandi for sharing your love of coffee.
My dreams changed over the years, but my love of coffee has never waned.