This essay is a selected submission from Street's Love Issue personal narrative contest. Read some of our other favorite pieces here and look out for new pieces as we publish them throughout the week!

I remember when we first met. It was early one morning. I was 15. Naturally, I was running late. And I almost missed you. We almost missed each other. But I turned around, and I saw you there. In my kitchen. Sitting on my counter. Dressed in blue ceramic. I swept you up and our lips met—and then I was yours and you were mine. And it was almost like everything that had ever happened to me before I met you didn’t matter anymore, didn’t count. And since that day, we’ve never parted. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I love you. Coffee, I love you. And I want to spend the rest of my life with you.

Coffee is my life. I’m not exaggerating. I would probably drop out of school and never get out of bed again if coffee ceased to exist. Coffee has carried me through every midterm, paper, prom diet, hangover, you name it. Coffee goes as well with heartbreak as it does with donuts—constantly energizing you to do absolutely anything to distract from your miserable life, from runs in the park to photography club or golf lessons. 

By that same token, coffee and romance go together like Nutella and lattes; when snuggling up with your guy, drinking a mug, your hands feeling as warm as your heart (swoon). To take it a step further, coffee can even function as a test to see if you’re really in love at all. I mean, does he bring you coffee? Does he know the way you take it? Okay, yes, true, I would technically take coffee in any form, but does he know your favorite creamer, for example, and how much of it you like? If he does, you can marry him. Simple as that. No further questions, your honor. Marry him on the spot, and start a family. Name your daughter Hazel…or Cinnamon…or French Vanilla. Did you know that nine out of ten divorces spring from spouses not knowing each other’s Starbucks order? If this article seems a little all over the place it’s because I’ve drunk over seven coffees today and my hands are shaking. Stay with me.

Name one thing coffee doesn’t go with. Lazy day reading by the hearth? Coffee! Crazy day taking three midterms and submitting two papers? Coffee! Angry walking? Coffee! Romantic stroll? Coffee! Okay, you get it. But coffee is more than multifunctional. Coffee is a muse. Coffee gives you strength. Coffee pushes you through when you feel you cannot go on. 

Here’s the thing, though. A lot of people like coffee, dabble in coffee, maybe even commit to coffee on a daily basis. But only true coffee addicts like myself know all the ins and outs, the rules and facts. For instance: addicts know the word on Keurigs. Keurigs are for normal people. Addicts don’t deal with Keurigs. If I can drink a pot by myself, why would I ever use something that limits me to a cup? Keurigs are like those stupid dessert shooters at fancy restaurants. Bring out the cake, please.

Here’s what's really cool: coffee can be a fashion statement. But I’m not even talking about trendy cafes. The bottom line is, mugs are great accessories. And you should drink your coffee out of a mason jar if you’re cute and crafty and so inclined. I’m not. I usually just drink it out of paper because the dishwasher is too slow; I need a new cup before my last one is clean. But I support anything that furthers the cause of coffee, and that surely includes mugs, jars, and monogrammed thermoses. And though they don’t fit my lifestyle as a self–diagnosed addict, that doesn’t stop me from asking for a new one every birthday. 

Which brings me to birthdays. I happen to believe the 21st is overrated. My 15th was far more critical because it was during that monumental year I experienced my first real drink—no, not the glory that is Guinness or the grandeur that is gin, but the divinity that is coffee. It’s not the same year for everyone. Maybe you were 22, starting your first real job. Maybe you were five and needed the extra energy to get reading under your belt (probably more rare, but you really never know).

But here’s what I do know: coffee, whether you fell in love at age one or one hundred, does more than satisfy a craving or supply energy. Coffee brings people together. Medium roast with Irish cream is the kitchen counter with my Mom on Thanksgiving morning. The leftover cafeteria Ethiopian blend with two Splendas is the lunch table with my best friends at our tiny, close–knit, all–girl school. Iced Nutella lattes are a corner booth at a beachy hole–in–the–wall with my sisters. And 24 ounces of Wawa is the front porch of that boutique I once managed with that boy I once loved. Coffee woke us up on the mornings when we were exhausted and it kept us moving as we worked toward something exciting or exquisite into the late hours of the night. It was the silent backbone of our days, most of which we spent with our people. So the next time you brew a pot, maybe pour two cups. Any addict will remind you that there is no wrong way to take your coffee. But I’m certain that coffee is best shared. 

Olivia Fitzpatrick is a senior from Philadelphia, PA.