Looking for some life-improving goals for 2013 that aren't about going to the gym more often? Here are a few things you can do in 2013 to raise your caffeinated quality of life (and do some greater good, to boot).
Try something new.
I don't mean dropping a bunch of dough on coffee that's been excreted by an exotic animal; I mean explore some of the incredible variety that coffee has to offer. If you normally drink Colombian coffee, try a crisp and fruity Kenyan sometime. If you've never had a naturally processed coffee, give that one a quick spin around the block. If you're a caffe latte drinker, check out an espresso macchiato sometime. Remember that if you don't like it, you can always go back to your old ways—but you'll never know until you try.
Try it black.
It doesn't have to be every time, and it doesn't have to be every coffee, but occasionally try to take a sip from your mug before adding your usual milk and sugar. (Note: This really only applies if you're drinking good-quality coffee to begin with. Which of course you should be. I'm just saying.)
Tasting before adulterating (or "improving," as you might consider it) can help you develop a keener palate for coffee, and might make you better able to recognize subtleties that previously eluded you. There is a reason we say coffee has "notes" of this, that, or the other thing—and we don't mean notes of Coffee-Mate.
Cut back a little bit.
It may sound counterintuitive, but releasing yourself from the vice-like grip of a caffeine addiction will not only help your productivity levels (which are probably currently tethered to the spikes and crashes associated with coffee high), but will also allow you to drink the stuff for pleasure instead of necessity. Any time we consume something because we enjoy it, we're likely to take more care with it, spend more money on it, and savor the experience a bit more. Now doesn't that sound better than guzzling a 20-ounce cup of tar just to "get you going" in the morning?
There really is no purer a love of coffee than there is from a decaf drinker: Released of the need (or ability to consume) caffeine, he or she is in it for the taste and the taste alone. A good, fresh decaffeinated coffee can be as delicious as its high-test counterpart, provided it's prepared with as much care and shown as much respect. (Which, let's face it, almost never happens.)
Mix it up a little by buying a bag of decaf for yourself and trying it on for size. Maybe a coffee after dinner every so often? Or wait until you've started tackling the previous resolution, and you no longer find yourself on the verge of a mental breakdown without your morning cup.
Stop using the phrase "hipster barista."
First of all, the word hipster is practically meaningless these days. Second of all, we're not all hipsters. (Have you seen me?!) Some of us—more than you might think—are hard-working professionals who put a lot of love and care in what we do, and who constantly read, argue, and learn more about brewing coffee for the benefit of drinkers everywhere.
Some of us have tattoos, sure, but don't some bankers and teachers and firemen have 'em, too? We use a specialized vocabulary to describe what we do, but so doesn't every chef that's ever lived, or every sommelier? And so what if some of us wear stupid little cheapo fedoras? (In the latter case, sometimes we have to: Many health departments dictate that coffee bar employees wear some kind of head covering at work. You'd prefer we wear hairnets, maybe?)
Do you have any other coffee resolutions for 2013?
About the author: Erin Meister trains baristas and inspires coffee-driven people for Counter Culture Coffee. She's a confident barista, an audacious eater, and a smiling runner, but she remains a Nervous Cook.