Mocha

Those of you that know me might think this article is about how my skin color has darkened since I’ve moved to California. Those of you who really know me will get that joke and know that I have only two possible skin colors: translucent white and burnt. I avoid prolonged sun exposure to keep my healthy pale glow about me.

This article is actually about the chocolate-infused coffee drink. I drink a lot more coffee since moving to San Francisco. For most of you, this may sound like a trivial matter, but I spent 50 years of my life avoiding the brewed beans. Fifty. Years.

I always loved the smell of coffee, but never could acquire a taste for it until Judy and I travelled to Paris for our 30th wedding anniversary. We ate breakfast at Angelina, a lovely patisserie with an over 110-year history. We ordered our food and I thought this would be a great time to try coffee again. If I’m going to like any coffee, it probably would be at a fancy Paris restaurant.

The coffee arrived and I tried it. Then I added a bit of cream and tried it again. Then a packet or two (or three) of (very healthy looking organic) sugar and voila! I liked it!

Yes, yes. Coffee isn’t real coffee with all the extras, but I was drinking—and enjoying—coffee. I have several friends that would never abuse their coffee this way. They also can tell if the beans were ground at the wrong speed and roasted for too long. I have no clue. It’s a miracle to me that I’m even drinking this stuff.

God, I’m such a grown up now.

Okay, that’s a silly comment, but it’s how I feel. After years of looking for alternate drinks, I can go to coffee shops with my friends and look forward to the beverage as well as the fellowship—even if I’m the guy with the fru-fru option.

In the grand scheme of things, changing my non-alcoholic drink of choice from soda to coffee is trivial, but there are bigger ramifications. Besides being a socialization tool, coffee is more available at San Francisco restaurants. Some of my new favorite eateries don’t even have Coke on the menu and liking coffee allows me to more fully enjoy those places.

My wife has been my guide through the menu of different coffees and, since she’s a chocolate fan, mocha is high on her list. Naturally, I followed her lead and became quite fond of it.

Mocha is an indulgence. It’s probably more dessert than coffee, but I’m not overly concerned about the opinion of coffee snobs. I love hanging out at The Grove, a cozy Fillmore Street restaurant, sipping almond mochas with my lovely lady.

Reflecting on our eating habits of a year ago, this is such a radical departure from the fast food life of Houston. No more piling into a hot car, driving to a chain location of a burrito or burger joint, downing some food, and driving back home. It was more about filling our guts than enjoying a meal.

In our new lifestyle, we try to take better care of ourselves. Judy started using a service called Plated, which delivers chef-curated recipes and ingredients for our dinners. This allows us to save money by preparing food at home and still feel like we’re getting restaurant-quality meals. When we do eat out, we make sure to treat it as more of a special occasion.

Sometimes this means ordering a mocha and just relaxing. The new me loves going to get a coffee. That still blows my mind.