Off the Beat: Drinking liquid genius


This, dear readers, is one of the greatest lines ever spoken by Lorelai Gilmore, the fast-talking matriarch of the Gilmore Girls, as she walked up to the counter of the local cafe. It is also one of the three phrases that my old roommate and I would use to describe our relationship. Obviously, we are both coffee addicts, ever enabling — no, encouraging! — each other’s addiction and still squandering our money on complex cappuccino or latte orders when we meet up.

Since we are hyperambitious, hard-working and equally hard-partying Cal students, coffee is an integral part of many of our lives. Besides some other popular “means” of staying awake and extracting every possible second of productivity out of our days, coffee is pretty much what makes our college world go round.

Before coming to college, I was one of those vanilla-latte-at-the-mall-sipping girls who ordered only drinks that successfully masked the taste of coffee with a mixture of milk and sweet syrups. I’ll be honest: I can’t say that I was a real coffee drinker back then — that would be discrediting the true addicts. But after I arrived at Cal my freshman year, befriended my coffee-loving neighbor, displayed fantastic procrastination skills that cause late nights and all-nighters, and drank Bear Market’s low-quality coffee every day, my addiction became official.

I drink coffee all the time.

I drink it when I need to get my day started, or to get over the afternoon energy drop. I run to it when I need to stay up late — or all night. I grab a cup of it when I have a long walk ahead of me and want to hold something in my hand to keep me company.

I drink it when I need a place to study and camping out at a cafe without buying something just wouldn’t be right. I get another cup of it after I’ve been studying at that cafe for some hours already and need to justify my further patronage. I call upon it when I’m meeting up with someone and we need a mindless activity over which to chat, discuss or plan.

It’s just there. Waiting for me to order it (plain or in a special form), drink it, savor it, enjoy it. Sometimes it disappoints in taste — not all coffee is made the same — but it always fulfills whatever I ask from it, whether it’s an energy boost or just company on my table or in my hand. It’s like that loyal friend we all have: Though it may be moody now and then, it’s still always there for you.

True love.

Although I used to make a lot of coffee at home — obviously my old roommate and I had not only a coffee maker but also a stovetop espresso maker and a milk frother — getting fancy drinks or even just a plain ol’ cup o’ joe at a coffeeshop has always been part of my routine in college. Sometimes I grab ‘n go, but oftentimes I sit, drink, work and dilly-dally there.

As I’ve already mentioned, cafes often serve as my work den. I study, do homework, write papers and columns, work on group projects and a do whole lot of attempting to actually accomplish all these things while I sit in my favorite caffeinated establishments around campus.


Well, though I’ve had to do a fair amount of reading (liberal arts majors holla!) and some quantitative-type assignments in my day, I’ve had to do a whole lot of writing for class and for this marvelous publication.

And I need a place where I can clear my thoughts and put some hopefully amazing ones on paper — well, screen.

As Virginia Woolf argues in one of my all-time favorite books (read: long essay), A Room of One’s Own, what a woman writer needs in order to let her true writing genius out is an income and — you guessed it — a room of her own.

Enter the cafe.

It’s not exactly my own room, as loads of other people are there, but it still does the trick for me psychologically. It’s a space for me to plant myself, grab some liquid caffeine, do some people watching, attempt to order all the thoughts in my head and type up the next greatest piece of literature in the world — note the sarcasm, please.

So as Virginia speaks of private writing rooms where one can take refuge and crank out some genius, I have chosen to make my local coffee shops my writing rooms, though updated because I’m a college chick and cannot afford a private study room in some British manor. I’m still working on the income part of the female literary genius recipe though — hopefully my Cal degree is going to help with that.

And since I’m a social being, I get my loyal buddy, coffee, to keep me company while I “privately” write at cafes. It works out great.

So next time you ask yourself if having yet another cup of coffee is a good idea, let me give you the answer: yes. It always is. Do not be ashamed of your (established or impending) coffee addiction, and embrace its home: the coffee shop.