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Confessions of a coffee virgin

OPINION

(Bloomberg )
August 12, 2012|By Tracy Swartz, RedEye

Last year, in a panic over turning 29, I created a list of 30 things to accomplish before I turn 30.

Some items on the checklist—such as swimming in the ocean for 30 minutes without fear of shark attack and completing two stairclimb events—were easy.

Most were a little harder than that. For example in June, I finished my plan to watch a baseball game in every major league ballpark. Then last month, I completed my goal of running a race 10K or longer in every state.

Yet the degree of difficulty of those accomplishments pales in comparison with the one item on my checklist I have been dreading the most, procrastinating until the final days of my 20s.

I need to drink my first cup of coffee.

I'm not exactly sure how I held out this long, really. Coffee just hasn't appealed to me because I think it will taste bitter—like one long Jager shot. I've never even had coffee-flavored ice cream.

My parents didn't drink coffee when I was a kid, but one recent Thanksgiving I caught my brother and mother sipping on cups post-dessert. My brother said he picked up the habit in college to help him stay awake to study. In college, I relied on Coke to get me through the night and orange juice to jolt me in the morning.

I also managed to avoid coffee in all of my past relationships. When a boyfriend asked for a cup, I just pretended not to hear him. For the longest time, I thought "French press" was a type of dry cleaning service.

And somehow I never touched the stuff at work, even though my co-workers make daily trips to Starbucks. My order there is iced tea in the summer, hot chocolate in the winter, or, embarrassingly, nothing at all because the choices seem to need translation.

Now, the time has come. I plan to drink this grounds-breaking cup before Wednesday, the penultimate day of my 20s. That's why I need your help, Chicago.

What should be my first cup of coffee? Where should it be consumed? Should I go to Starbucks, the cup-ital of U.S. coffee chains? Or should I go local with Intelligentsia? Should I have it with milk? Sugar? Both? And what's the deal with foam on top? Tweet or email me—I need to know!

Hopefully, coffee will help keep me awake through my 30s. I hear oldsters need a lot of naps.

tswartz@tribune.com | @tracyswartz

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