My dad drank about a pot and a half of pure black sludge every morning over the Wall Street Journal, and, in his mind, his coffee was the only viable coffee in the world.  Seriously.  Everywhere else we went, he’d complain they “didn’t brew it strong enough,” or “watered down,” wincing each time the latter verdict was rendered.  This was as much emotion as he’d normally show; he’s a CPA specializing in tax code, which also explains his dependency on condensed caffeine.

He had the right to feel a little haughty, I guess.  Rather than have a Mr. Coffee like all the rest of my friend’s parents, he had a stainless steel Italian contraption that took up half our countertop.  It had unnecessary features, like a giant milk frother (Dad only took black), and a thermometer.  Not for the coffee.  For outside.  While presuming this to be valuable information to someone ostensibly just waking up, who turns to their coffee maker for the weather?  Although it was more coherent than Willard Scott.

Next to it, occupying the other half of the counter, was a selection of scoops, filters, bags of various whole beans, a grinder and, oh yeah, a French press and an espresso machine.  At the time, before there was an outbreak of cookie cutter coffee joints choking the exurbs, this was pretty weird.  Taster’s Choice was as fancy as most people got.

Naturally, I inherited the love of a good, strong cuppa.  The difference being, I drank the stuff without discretion.  I was the guy you see at places like Jiffy Lube downing Styrofoam cup after Styrofoam cup.

Dad did not approve, particularly the heretical act of adding sweetener.  It was like I just told him I was moving in to kick heroin each time I’d open a Sweet and Low.  But how else was I going to choke down my favorite retail freebie?

In high school, I drank coffee because it made me feel grown up; I progressed from Capri Suns to cappuccinos with shocking quickness.  Men drank coffee (or beer, but the latter was decidedly more difficult and dangerous for a high schooler to obtain).  Plus, it had a nice kick that made first period tolerable.

In college, I drank coffee because beer suddenly became decidedly less difficult and dangerous to obtain.  And, there was a coffee cart located directly between my fraternity house and campus.  Guy made a killing.  Also, my school employed “The Socratic Method,” academic doublespeak for “fall asleep at the risk of social stigma.”

Now, in adulthood, I’ve become my father’s son.  But, he’s a boomer, and took pride in doing it himself.  I, on the other hand, preferred drive-through Starbucks.  I became, for a brief stint, one of those d-bags you get behind in line who spoke coffee shop Italian in orders so long they might as well have been arias.

That walk down memory lane is important, because I want you to know where I’m coming from.  I’m no connoisseur, but coffee’s become inexorably intertwined with my daily routine.  I enjoy drinking it, and drink a lot of it.  It’s in my blood (which might explain why I feel so alert and cheerful!)

Scientists have proven a correlation between memory and smell, and just the aroma of a freshly brewed pot makes people happy.  That’s why you inevitably take a deep waft the first time you bring a cup to your lips.  You go back somewhere; to a late night with old friends, to mornings at camp, to church socials.  To a parent.  To somewhere.

That’s something North Star Fine Coffees understands…

See, North Star Fine Coffees provides a gourmet five star rated fresh roasted, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.  I’ve had this explained to me, but James Beard I’m not.  So I won’t belabor North Star’s gourmet credentials.  Simplified, it means they make exceptionally good coffee, and it’s easily the best coffee I’ve ever had.  Sorry Dad.

**Full disclaimer: I am receiving no monetary compensation for writing this testimonial, but instead, complimentary North Star coffee.

But of course, I didn’t receive the complimentary North Star Coffee in exchange for writing this article!  I got it because one day, I saw a question posted on a popular social networking website (figure it out, they don’t need the SEO help).

It was a pretty good prompt, and I think I probably just quaffed a quad shot.  So I wrote a detailed exposition to the oh so deep Web 2.0 query:  How do you make coffee Gen Y would want to buy?  Or something in that rhyme scheme.

My answer then, as now, is this: I’m a Gen Y member.  Have you ever been in a 7-11 and wondered who in the hell orders those cringe inducing coffee-energy drink fusions?  Who was the target market for the inexplicable Coca Cola Blak?  That’s my generation, baby.

In other words, we don’t really care about where the coffee comes from (obviously, a bottling plant will do).  The threshold of acceptable quality is non-existent.  We want three things: it’s got to be fast, convenient and have enough stimulants to help us get through another day, as we’re recent comers to the wage slave trade.

To my surprise, the CEO of the company, Bryan-David Scott wrote me back the next day, asking if he could ask me a few more questions.  I warned him that I knew as much about coffee as Stevie Wonder knew about guiding tours.  Which is to say, not a lot.  He called anyway.

He told me about North Star Fine Coffees, and what he was trying to do.  I expressed skepticism at the ability of a start-up wholesaler with zero name recognition to make a dent in the hypercompetitive upscale coffee category (put much less delicately).  His impassioned response: “It’s the best coffee you’ll ever taste.”

To be honest, I tuned out the parts about the awards the coffee’s won, the global itinerary of the locally sourced beans, the sophisticated roasting process.  See, that only sounds like copywriting generalities because I don’t remember specifics.  Cross my heart.

He must have sensed this, because he offered to send me some to try before continuing the conversation.  The catch?  I had to tell him what I thought.  Honestly.  So, I told him my address, as it seemed a fair trade, which matters in coffee these days.

Only a few days later, however, a guy shows up with a huge package.  From UPS.  Stop smirking.  Inside, a huge wicker gift basket immaculately wrapped in a neat little bow (for crying out loud), which, being a guy, was completely lost on me.  My girlfriend, on the other hand, loved it, informing me when she saw it the wicker basket was, in fact, a coffee cup resting on a saucer.  I have it on good faith that it’s the cutest thing in the world.  She actually gave it to her Mom for a gift (now that’s value), and I have it on faith that it fits great on the counter, right next to the coffee maker!

I, on the other hand, went straight for the homemade biscotti.  Yeah.  Unexpected, but welcomed.  It was, as you can deduct, amazing, because you don’t really go the biscotti route if you aren’t damn well sure what you’re doing.  And they go great with coffee.

I got three kinds: North Star’s Black Label, Seattle Reign, and L’Chaim.  Being a Jew, I first opted for North Star’s Black Label.  The L’Chaim would wait until last, so I could display it in my cupboard of irony next to the “Heroes of the Torah” drinking glass set.

By Freelancer  Matt Charney