I've been aware of coffee my whole life. My parents have always been drinkers of the brew. I remember being very young, waking up on weekend mornings and walking out into our family room to find them drinking coffee and watching tv. On one of these mornings, once I had the cognitive and verbal capacity, I asked them what they were drinking. They told me what it was, and that it wasn't for children but they offered me a taste. So I took a sip. My child's palate was none too pleased. I thought "Why would you drink something so bitter for fun? And you start your morning with this?" Ironically, I would probably still be disgusted if I took that same sip again today but only because I'm such a coffee snob that my parents coffee is no longer good enough for me. Later in my childhood, when I expressed a similar curiosity about beer my parents handled it the same way, casually allowing me a taste. Based on those two experiences I decided that if a beverage was deemed "for adults", that was just another way of saying it must taste like shit.
I didn't touch coffee for years after that. When I got to be a teenager getting coffee was never my suggestion but I would occasionally follow friends to a Starbucks to procure a sweet, creamy beverage that hid mediocre espresso somewhere in the mix. I would forget it was even in there until I was buzzing out of my mind 20 minutes later. I really miss those coffee buzzes I got as an inconsistent drinker. That was kind of my first experience with recreational drug use. It was the first time I noticed an undeniable change in my consciousness as the result of consuming a substance. I guess I'm saying that coffee was my gateway drug.
The problem with having such a low tolerance for caffeine was that I would quickly over-drink myself into a state of jittery discomfort. I also didn't want to become a person who NEEDED coffee every day. I figured if I was getting by just fine without it, why risk forming a habit? So I kept coffee at arm's length for a few years longer. Then one day, on a whim, during my third year of college I decided to stop in at one of the on-campus coffee shops to get a small black coffee. I figured it would be pleasant to sip on it during my African American Literature class. It was nice having something to drink during the lecture and it made it so much easier to pay attention. Half-way through the class I was sitting there realizing that my brain just worked better and faster with caffeine in it. It was like alcohol's counter-part. The same way spirits help put you in a state more compatible with loud bars and socializing, coffee helps bring you into a state more compatible with paying attention and synthesizing ideas. Similar to the way I came around to the usefulness of booze, I suddenly saw coffee as physiological tool. I left that class and walked home from campus wondering to myself, "How much more productive would I be if I just drank this stuff everyday? Why don't I just do this all the time?" And just like that I became a regular coffee drinker.