As most people, I didn’t really drink coffee until I got halfway through university and discovered that pulling all-nighters at 21 is vastly different than sleeping for about five hours a night in high school and being alright with it by mid-morning. My first true coffee experience happened while I was in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, grabbing some supper with newfound friends and consequently found myself staying awake until dawn. But, as someone who’s just started to appreciate coffee over the last few years, here are some significant milestones in my journey as a budding coffee lover:

1. Much of your bank account goes to different coffee shops

When I start actually liking something, I get mildly obsessive about it, and it was no different with coffee. I’d go to a cafe a couple of times a week and order something different each time, just to find out where my preferences lie. And then I’d repeat the cycle at another place until I’ve either exhausted the choices or my wallet (usually the latter happens a lot more often). But then again, how are you supposed to know what you like unless you don’t try all the various concoctions out there, am I right?

2. Black coffee still isn’t your thing (but you’re warming up to it)

Speaking of trying out various concoctions, there’s still a category that most of us might still be intimidated by. Let’s face it; we probably started this journey with something sugary sweet from Starbucks or Coffee Bean, and discovered we wanted a little more of that caffeine and a little less of the cream and milk. However, an espresso is still something that you’re gradually getting used to, especially when a normal latte or mocha just isn’t cutting it for you on those particularly stressful days.

3. Starting the morning with a cup of coffee feels right (except when you make it)

The downside of trying out so many caffeinated beverages at retail establishments is that you still won’t be able to know how exactly you like taking your coffee. And seeing as you’ve just recently started appreciating the drink, it’s not like you can actually tell the nuances of that particular drink you’ve been buying constantly over the last couple of weeks. However, that won’t stop you from trying to make that cup of joe in the morning, and being more than just a tad disappointed that it doesn’t taste quite right.

At least it gives you an excuse to swing by that new coffee shop that just opened up near your office.

4. You automatically perk up when someone suggests trying a new cafe

Back in the dark days when I had no prior experience to caffeine and someone would exclaim, “Oh, let’s catch up over some coffee!” I’d have to hold back a grimace as I panicked over what exactly I could order at the counter without looking like a complete fool. However, nowadays, that’s probably the only way you’ll be able to draw me out of my cave of introversion, lured by the promise of getting to taste the sweet nectar of caffeine once again. Bonus points if it’s a new cafe.

Bonus bonus points if you’re paying for my coffee.