To quote one of my teachers, who pushed me into this black — no cream or sugar — hole of a coffee addiction, “coffee is romantic as shit.”

It only makes sense that there is a dynamic around meeting the person of your dreams while bumping into them at a coffee shop. I used to be a blind coffee drinker, but now I realize aimlessly drinking coffee is only the tip of the iceberg of this industry; I am a true coffee lover.

This past semester I have spent all of my free time studying in different specialty coffee shops. I think there is something wonderful to be said about the way coffee connects people with each other, and I intend to prove it.

Coffee is an art.

There is mentally and physically so much that goes into crafting that one special cappuccino, latte or americano exactly how you want it. Aside from the farmers growing a superior crop, the roasters pulling out the complex flavors and tasteful undertones and the barista carefully creating your order, there is also a popular movement with what is known as “latte art.” Concocting aesthetically pleasing designs out of the foam that rests on the surface of your seemingly simple latte has evolved into competitions hosted at the national, and even worldwide, level. All that goes into one cup is more elaborate than most people realize. Coffee is an art: a very meticulous hands-on craft.

Coffee has its own little world.

I once had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Cody Fergusson, the “Chief Coffee Officer” of Dichotomy, a local coffee shop I frequent. He talked to me about the conventions in the coffee world, the barista competitions and the coffee association that holds a few training camps yearly.

“It’s kind of this surreal world where everyone thinks exactly like you and then you come back home and you work in a shop and nobody thinks like you, except the six people you work with,” Fergusson explained.

He shared with me numerous bits of coffee gold, like how the farmer puts hours into his coffee crop because he wants it to be the best it can be and how the roaster wakes up in the wee hours of the morning to devote every minute of his time to bringing out specific flavors from his coffee beans for the aficionado to enjoy.

I slowly began to realize why coffee is such a growing industry. It was as if my eyes were opened to this secret new world that not many people had the privilege of knowing about. I wanted to jump right in this mesmerizing trade.

Coffee creates friendships.

Since I have been spending more time in coffee shops around the United States, I have noticed the little things I hadn’t before — the routine regulars that visit the shop, the people that gather over this delightful bean to “catch up” and even the students who simply stop in to get a cup and study. I love seeing the different groups of people come together, discuss and laugh over the hot, fragrant drink cupped in their hands.

The love of coffee brings people of all different backgrounds together. The relationship formed between the barista and the drinker should not go unnoticed. There is always that choice consumer who appreciates the art of the brew in their cup and sees coffee for what it is: the universal uniter.

Everyone has a story to tell, and I believe many baristas will be more than willing to share their untapped love for coffee with the person buying the cup. I can now proudly say I am one of those appreciative coffee connoisseurs. Next time you order your lightly sweetened iced caffe mocha, know you’re holding a cup of art, joy and unity in your hand.