The Best Part of Waking Up…

When it comes to coffee, my first two weeks in Senegal were absolutely tragic. 

One of the last times that I ordered coffee in the US.

At least, I think that they were. And that’s the thing-I can’t really remember. On October 25, 2009, I ran to the Starbucks closest to gate C25 in the DC airport as the stewardess glared at me and repeatedly announced over the loudspeaker that they “really were going to close the gate”-and seriously contemplated double-fisting two venti caramel lattes onto the plane. Practicality triumphed (that, and I knew what buying two coffees would do to my street-cred with my team), and I boarded the plane to Dakar with one, last, incredible venti skinny caramel latte with whip. 

It’s not that I’m crazy about Starbucks. It’s just what was available-and when you’re jonesing, you’ll drink almost anything. 

I didn’t sleep a wink on that eight hour flight from DC to Dakar. Mind you, this had nothing to do with the coffee-I can shotgun at least four espresso shots within half an hour of drifting off to asleep. I was simply over the moon to finally be en route! We landed in Senegal at approximately five AM. [For that story, check out my second blog.] Pascal [my in-country boss] picked up our bleary-eyed, bedraggled crew, and took us to a charming little French bakery for breakfast. 

My bloodshot eyes visibly brightened-chocolate croissants and coffee! It was like some sort of ethereal promise that I was going to be okay in this new country that had very abruptly become home. That steaming cup of coffee represented

”] everything that was normal and comfortable to me-the familiar, best part of waking up. And, I hadn’t had a cup of coffee since that latte in DC. [Jonesing or not, I simply cannot be expected to choke down the sludge that South African Airlines tries to pass off as “coffee”. My taste buds are not that numb.] 

And so it was with a great deal of anticipation that I ordered my first [and in that moment, desperately needed] café latte in Senegal at the bakery that early Monday morning. One sip was all it took. It was that first cup of coffee in Senegal that truly highlighted the intense need for Christ in this country. Seriously-even the daintiest sip of Senegalese coffee leaves no room for doubt about the depravity of man. It was horrific-something, I imagine, akin to guzzling the contents of a lava lamp. Absolutely undrinkable to anyone whose taste buds still have some fight left in them. 

To this day, I can’t figure out exactly what makes the coffee in Dakar so terrible-but even running on 48 hours with no sleep, I couldn’t do more than spit it back into the mug and hope that that wasn’t unforgivably culturally offensive. That fateful morning at the bakery marked the beginning of my two week coffee drought travesty. I haven’t gone two weeks without drinking coffee since I was twelve. I’ve barely gone two waking hours. And so for two, excruciatingly long weeks, I stumbled around Dakar in a sort of confused daze-wondering when on earth the sun became so blindingly bright and everybody started shouting. 

One of my all-time favorite coffee moments: trying what is rumored to be the best cappucino in all of Italy!

Then one day, Pascal had my team and I over to his house for a meeting. Pascal has spent a lot of time in the States, and somewhere along the line some kind soul introduced him to the phenomenon that is American coffee. And that beautiful Tuesday morning, Pascal pulled out a coffee grinder and a bag of STARBUCKS dark roast, and offered me a mug of American coffee. 

With Sandy right before I left home. She's the sweetest dog in the world!

 Call me callous, but I didn’t cry when I said goodbye to my family and my parents drove away. I didn’t cry as I walked away from my best friends to go through security at the airport. I was entirely dry-eyed when I hugged my old, golden retriever Sandy for what may have been the last time right before I left. I am, however, fairly certain that tears sprang to my eyes when Pascal pulled out that blue bag of Starbucks coffee. It took every ounce of self-control in my little 5’3 body to not grab the bag, roll up a dollar bill and go to town. 

If you know me, you already know the happily ever after of this story. I ended up finding a coffee pot to buy in Senegal, and it wasn’t long before my first package from home arrived-stuffed full of coffee! It’s been the sweetest thing-everybody has sent me coffee. I’ve gotten pumpkin spiced coffee from Christy’s parents, decaf from Ben’s Mom, POUNDS of hazelnut crème and French vanilla from mine, regular from Kristy, and even some

At the Starbucks in Paris with Craig-one of my happiest coffee moments this year! The first Starbucks run I'd made since I'd left the States.

Kopi Luwak (the cat poop coffee) from JD…the list goes on. I have so much coffee stashed away from all of you that I don’t need any more until I come back in the fall! This might sound corny, but every morning when I wake up and make my first pot of coffee, I feel really loved. The best part of waking up isn’t Folgers-[because let’s be honest, nobody likes freeze-dried dollar bin coffee anyways]-it’s the fact that some of my favorite people in the world cared enough to ship trunkfulls of coffee all the way to Dakar.


  1. You are hilarious. I need to update you on my latest coffee drama.
    I must admit I’ve thought of sending coffee your way! Glad I slacked off and haven’t. :-)

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