English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...I have always struggled with writing nonfiction based on my own life. What has happened in my life that warrants a novel? It hit me one night over the holiday weekend as I was trying to fall asleep:

Coffee.

For over six years now, I have worked at a coffee shop – Caribou Coffee, to be exact. If you have spent any amount of time in a Starbucks, Caribou, Bigby, or independent chain, you know that coffee is an experience. Our society has an obsession with the drink, yes, but it’s more than just getting your quick cup of caffeine and heading into work.

Baristas are more than just the people behind the counter that stand between you and your cup of coffee. They are there to make a human connection with you, maybe chat about something you have in common, and make you smile once in your day.

Take, for example, at the Caribou that used to be down the street from mine: one gentleman came in every single morning, rarely said anything despite numerous attempts every time to get him to talk. He would get his coffee and leave. After well over a year of this, one day out of the blue, he got his cup of coffee, looked at the barista working and said, “I just want you to know that I’m a security guard at a local jail. And your smiling faces are the only smiles I see every single day. Thank you.”

What can really come over short snippets of conversation around a common enjoyment like sports or music or movies? What happens when you, as a female, dress up as Henrik Zetterberg for Halloween and work an open shift? You get regular customers you’ve known for years thinking you’re a new employee, and then continually talking to you about hockey after that. You find common bonding experiences.

In my six years working there, as it is about to become a different coffee shop, I have come to realize that while my stories may not be unique or out of the ordinary, they have impacted me more than I realized. Those customers that come in every morning, every week, have watched me grow up before their eyes.

That shop has shaped who I have become and where I’m heading in life. And if that isn’t something to write about and share with the world, I don’t know what is.

The stories I will put in there may not be groundbreaking or earth-shattering. It may not be any sort of book that changes your outlook on life or makes you cry or tries to teach you a life lesson. But if it can get you to smile or laugh, I will have done what I set out to do. It’s the little things in life that add up to make a difference.

So keep your eyes peeled for snippets of it that I may post here as I try to compile all my thoughts and memories in one place.

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