Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Caffeine Genetics

I like good coffee. 

(Wow, that sounds pretty obvious, doesn’t it.  Maybe I should just quit while I’m ahead today, with mind-blowing observations like that!  Is your life changed from having read that?  Good, then I’ve done my job.  You’re welcome.)

Beyond that, though, I really really don’t like bad coffee.

(Still cookin’ here.)

In my case, it’s a learned behavior.  I came of age during the Great Coffee Revolution: the birth of Starbucks and the mainstreaming of Gourmet Roasts.  My parents always make coffee at their house; and they always buy the good stuff.  So, when I started to drink it, there was always a really rich, aromatic blend available.  My sister learned to brew coffee when she was five years old.  By the age of seven, she was the go-to coffee maker in our house.  I focused my efforts on drinking it, rather than making it (which, I still feel was a smarter strategic choice).

So, my coffee snobbery has deep roots.  I turn my nose up at Maxwell House and Folgers.  I buy the best beans I can afford from artisanal roasters, I grind them myself and every morning I brew a press-pot.  If coffee isn’t brewed strong enough, I feel cheated.   I prefer dark roasts over light roasts, but they have to be done right.  I have a great deal of disdain for Starbucks, because I think they over-roast their beans to achieve a rich flavor, but everything ends up tasting burned. 

When I travel to tea-drinking societies, I drink tea more often than coffee, but only because the coffee tends to be instant.  If I do drink instant coffee (only out of necessity: heading to the airport, need something to stay awake before leaving the hotel room), I double the dose of powder, hold my nose and wait for the caffeine to kick in before I start making any big decisions….like where to find something decent to drink.

Because coffee-snobbery is a family affair, when I travel, one of the best gifts I bring back is coffee.  My parents babysit for Roxy when I go away, so I bring gifts from my travels.  In Indonesia this Spring, I spent four days looking for good beans, I bought some that were just ok.  When I got back from shopping, my host had bought me two pounds of incredible coffee, so when I got home, I gave away what I bought and kept the good stuff to myself.  (Go ahead, ask me if I regret being selfish:  I don’t.) Last fall, I returned from Colombia with an amazing kilo of Colombian coffee.  Two days later, I left for Norway, a country that consumes good coffee, but doesn’t produce it.  Four days into my stay in Norway, my mom called me on Skype. 

“We drank all that coffee.  When are you bringing back more?”   

Told you….I come by it honestly.

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Nicki’s life….or at least part of it.

So….intro.  Ok.

My name is Nicki and right now I live in Boston.  History tells me this is a temporary situation, as I never end up living in one place for too long, but my current career circumstances seem fairly stable (ish….) so, it seems that Boston is home for the foreseeable future, at least.  Which is fine.  I like it here.  It’s close to where I grew up (sorta) and where my family still lives in New Hampshire, it’s close to where I used to live, in New York.

I’ve spent my life being fairly nomadic. My dad was in the Navy, so we never really settled anywhere until I was in my teens.  Since then, I seem to get itchy feet every few years, and so I move.  Sometimes I move across town, sometimes I move across the country.  Last August I moved about three miles from my old apartment.  Small moves are enough to satisfy my urge to flee, so I’ll stay where I am for now.  This all goes a long way to me saying that my current job is PERFECT for me.

I work at a non-profit organization, like others in this blogging sorority.  My organization does research on the impacts of other NGOs (non-governmental organizations) working in the humanitarian, development and peacebuilding fields.  My job is basically to go around the world and talk to people about what they do, and how they do it.  I get to meet the best people in the world, every place I go.  I’ve been doing this job for just over a year, and I’ve been to Kenya (twice), Norway, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, Philippines, Cambodia and Thailand.  Not to brag (well, ok. yes, to brag), I have the best job.

Me, in Kenya, petting a Cheetah. Who gets to do that?

So, in a nutshell:  I’m a nomadic, dog-owning, cheetah-petting, NGO worker who lives in Boston.  There is, of course, more to me than that, but this seems like enough for now.


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