In 2009 I was floundering. I was a lost 24 year old not really sure what to do with my life. My dreams of becoming a diplomat no longer suited me. As our country was going through a recession jobs were hard to come by though, I didn’t fully appreciate that until on a whim I decided to move across the country to a place I’d never been to. And, live with a friend I hadn’t seen in two years. She was having a hard time and for some reason I thought that I could help. In reality my presence just brought more stress into her life, and mine. Not being a quitter or having much money I didn’t feel like I could just throw the towel in. Looking back I think I wanted to prove to myself that I could make it on my own in the world.
Make it I have! In 2010 I joined the Washington Reading Corps, where I met some dear friends, and I also taught children how to read. I thought that I had found my calling. I would become a teacher. But, when I continued to volunteer in classrooms after my two year term of service ended, I realized there were a lot of things about being an elementary educator that didn’t suit me. I enjoyed the children immensely but, it was too hard to see so many under served students. I wanted to take all the homeless children home, I would cry when a severely abused child would tell me about their home life. I wanted to be there for the kids but, I knew day after day, year after year, I would fail them in so many ways and I couldn’t live with that.
In 2012 I submitted my resume to our neighborhood corner bistro. I didn’t have any coffee experience, but I was hopeful that my cheery disposition would win over whomever was hiring. Not only did my bubbly personality help me get the job my Midwest roots sealed the deal. Thus began my obsession and quest to learn all that I could about coffee.
Last year I decided that it was time for me to take my first trip to origin. This is what coffee professionals call it when we go to coffee farms. I had never been to a coffee farm. It seemed like that should be the next step in my coffee education. Because it is the path that most professionals take. I decided to take a Spanish class. But, I was unable to find a class that would be at the level I needed it to be. Not a big deal I could just study by myself, or maybe I’d find a private tutor. But, I came up empty on my tutor search. So, I decided to take Italian again instead. It had been twelve years since I had study the Italian language. I was also not having any luck finding a coffee farm in Colombia that was safe to visit. And, when I asked the coffee roasters I know that are from Colombia about going to their home country they didn’t think it was a safe idea for me to visit alone. I could have gone to another coffee origin country. It seemed like things were falling into place and making more sense to go to Italy, to study Italian espresso.
My Italian teacher asked me to do a class presentation on ordering coffee in Italy. I also decided that I wanted to learn some of the history behind different espresso based drinks. in my research for this topic I have yet to find a book written in English about the history of Italian espresso. Sure everyone out there has a blog post about the origin of the Cappuccino. Or the travel magazine article about ordering a Latte in Italy and receiving a glass of milk. I want to learn more than that. So I’m taking my coffee education into my own hands and going to Europe for three weeks. Spending most of that time in Italy to drink, read, and learn about Italian espresso. I hope you’ll follow along on my journey as I update my blog while abroad.