“I’ll take an Americano and a …” he paused, looking down in my direction. “What do you want, sweetie?”

“A hot chocolate!” 7-year-old me replied, giddy in anticipation of the impending sugar rush.

“Yes, and a hot chocolate, please,” he finished, returning his gaze to the barista.

My love for coffee shops is less about the coffee, although I love a good iced latte. It’s more about enjoying the coffee shop “vibe,” the environment that brings people together. Coffee shops are perfect places to catch up with a friend, get some work done, people watch and do much of, well, nothing.

I spent many a childhood day at the Java House — an Iowa City classic — with my dad. Sipping hot chocolate in a mug too heavy for my small hands, I read countless Junie B. Jones books before graduating to the Magic Treehouse Kids series. With a hot chocolate mustache and curious eyes, I’d admire my dad as he graded papers or read a book of poems.

A little girl, who looks about 7, is sitting next to me at the neighborhood Blue Bottle. She’s laughing, sharing a chocolate chip cookie with her dad. For some reason, the sight drives me to tears. Joyful tears. I miss my dad. I can’t wait for our next coffee date when I go home for the holidays.

In the meantime, I’m gonna order some hot chocolate.

Written by

wharton mba ’17 || innovation & design enthusiast

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