Welcome author Alex Erickson, who is here to celebrate the tenth book in his Bookstore Cafe Mystery series, Death by Spiced Chai, which was released by Kensington on October 25th.
Alex writes here about his relationship with coffee, something I have a bit of an interest in myself.
Take it away, Alex!
My Coffee Journey
Coffee and I were not always friends. In fact, I was perfectly content without it. “It’s just dirty water.” I’d said it countless times in my youth. If I wanted something hot to drink, hot chocolate worked just fine.
But then, ever so slowly, my opinion changed.
Back when I was in college, I worked at an Auntie Anne’s in the local mall. I often opened the store, and when I did, I had to choose the coffee for the day. One regular. One decaf. One flavored. It was the flavored one that got me.
I’m not sure how it started. I suppose I was curious. Every time I opened, I made sure the flavored coffee was hazelnut. I couldn’t drink regular, unflavored coffee, nor could I stand French vanilla or any of the other options. Yet, for reasons I have never been able to fathom, hazelnut didn’t have that same “blech” effect on me. I’d make it, and have a small cup in the morning, not because I needed it, but because it was there.
I’ve never needed coffee to stay awake—or wake myself up. Sleep and I don’t get along as it is, so who needs a caffeine jolt when you’re going to be awake anyway?
Yet, sometime after the “hazelnut experiment,” I found myself wanting the comfort of a hot cup of coffee. It was a slow process. I’d go weeks without a coffee. And when I did get one, it might be a latte or cappuccino, something purchased while on the road. Then, ever so slowly, it started to become a habit, and now, I have my morning cup and one evening cup a day.
And still, I don’t feel as if I’m addicted. I have no problem skipping a morning jolt. I don’t need the caffeine to wake up. I don’t get a headache or turn grouchy if I miss out. But there is a comfort to pouring that first cup and savoring its heat that other drinks just can’t match. Even hot tea can’t compare—and I’ve tried.
In the Bookstore Café mystery series, Krissy likes her coffee black with a cookie floating inside it. I’ve been asked if I’ve ever tried it and the answer is a resounding, “No!” I couldn’t imagine drinking anything with chunks floating in it. That includes pulpy orange juice, fruit smoothies, and anything with crushed ice. I don’t want to have to chew my drinks. That’s just . . . ugh!
For my coffee, all I want is a plain coffee—no flavored beans, and that includes the tried and true hazelnut—with pure cane sugar (only a little. I don’t like overly sweet) and hazelnut creamer. Once again, not too much or else I can’t drink it. And, of course, I prefer to grind my own beans.
That’s it. Every now and again, I might have a caramel macchiato from a coffee shop, but we’re talking once every two or three months. And it’s usually when I’m going on a long trip and I’d much rather have a coffee drink than a soda.
Maybe it’s strange that I write about a bookstore café without being a coffee connoisseur or addict.
But I’m going to keep doing it anyway!
Readers: What about you? Do you prefer that morning jolt? Or can you skip coffee for days—maybe weeks—at a time? What about flavors? Take it black and bitter? Or do you prefer your coffee with so much sugar and creamer, it qualifies as candy?
About Death by Spiced Chai
In a small town like Pine Hills, reputation counts for a lot. And for reasons that Krissy Hancock can’t figure out, someone is trashing hers. Cockroaches in the bookstore’s coffee, spiteful reviews, vandalism—Krissy is being framed for every bit of bad news around. Her boyfriend, local cop Paul Dalton, is on the case, but before they can source the saboteur, Krissy is in the frame for murder, too.
The murder weapon was a teapot full of Krissy’s favorite spiced chai, and all the local gossips are spilling the tea about her supposed involvement. But the real culprit has a grudge that’s been simmering for years. And unless Krissy can uncover the truth before the killer’s rage boils over again, it won’t just be her business in hot water—her life will be on the line too . . .
About Alex Erickson
Alex Erickson is the author of the Bookstore Café and Furever Pets mysteries. His latest book is Death by Spiced Chai. He lives in Ohio with his wife, son, and trio of cats. You can find
him online at https://alexericksonbooks.com/