I remember the first time I drank black coffee. I nearly spit the whole mouthful out at the harshness and bitterness. I saw my father as well as a slew of other adults drinking black coffee and thought to myself (as many youngsters do), “This must be one of those grown-up things – like growing mustaches.” I remained in my creamed-coffee world for many years after that, convinced that one day I may come to like black coffee, but still too much enjoyed cream coffee.
When my teenage years came to a close, my companions began drinking things called “espresso’s” and “Americano’s” and “cappuccino’s”. To my knowledge, this was like drinking coffee concentrate, which seemed as bad as drinking orange juice concentrate. Surprisingly, my friends began other related activities – smoking pipe tobacco and cigars, drinking uncommon beers of all sorts of brewing fashions, and venturing into whiskeys and occasionally wine. This all seemed to me to be part of this “grown-up, black-coffee, mustache-growing” world. I knew that if I were to end the mockery that ensued for my “White Mocha with Whipped Cream” orders, I must bury my head and begin drinking the roasted draught.
So began my journey. I hated it. I would go with my friends and we would all order our black-coffee drinks. I would order mine so I could be part of the group and avoid the jeering for my favored drink. This continued for many months. I would even order the Americano when I was by myself, for fear that I may see my friends at some point and they may discern my poor choice in beverage. One day, I said to myself, “enough of this friend-pleasing… I’m ordering the girl-drink”. So I did, and the first sip I had the strangest reaction. I could not finish the drink. I felt as though I were drinking a cup of coffee flavored syrup. I knew at that time I had entered into “grown-up things.”
This coffee-drinking journey bears a similarity to my journey from a pietistic understanding to a confessional understanding. There are many facets to this journey, many of which I will try to draw out in the forthcoming posts, and more to which I am not yet even aware. One thing I will say at the beginning: going from the Pietist world to the Confessional world, bears much resemblance to the harshness that is perceived in coffee to a new drinker. Coffee is a subtle substance that, to the untrained, appears (as I like to say) strong and bitter. But to a imbiber of coffee, there are variegated flavors, hints, and subtleties that make it something one can scarce go a day without. An outsider may look upon the Confessional as a strong and bitter one, but when one truly becomes acquainted, the richness that is found within is unparalleled – it would be very difficult to go back to drinking the old beverage.