for the love of coffee

I’ve always thought I had a great last name. It’s Coffee. Like the drink (or as some say, like the bean.)

Growing up, the kids would try to tease me about my name, but I remember scoffing at them because their jokes were never, ever original. I figured if you’re gonna make fun of someone, at least be a little bit funny.

I’d say about 95 percent of the coffee jokes I hear are amazingly lame, but I digress. Back to loving my last name. In college it became my nickname and my girlfriends from that era still call me Coffee. (Some call me Miss Coffee, no sugar no cream…)

Then when I got engaged, I began to think about what to do with my name. My soon-to-be husband was offended that I didn’t want his last name. It’s Hesselberg. Not as snazzy as Coffee, so you see my point. I suggested that he take my name. Needless to say, Mr. Hesselberg wasn’t amused. I didn’t want to hyphenate my name nor did I want to drop my middle name like many women do. My middle name is Shae, my Daddy gave it to me and I loved it, too.

My compromise was as a writer to keep my name Melanie Coffee in print then be Melanie Coffee Hesselberg elsewhere.

When it came time to legally change my name, I filled out the paperwork and went to the driver services office. The older woman behind the counter couldn’t believe that I wanted to keep both Coffee and Hesselberg as my last name.

“Are you sure?” She asked squinting her already squinty eyes.

“Yes.” I’m sure the smile on my face was very forced.

It was her turn to scoff. “Well!” she huffed, “That won’t last. You’ll shorten it after you get tired of writing the whole thing out.”

I clenched my jaw. I didn’t trust my mouth to say anything remotely civil. We finished the rest of the transaction in silence.

It’s 10 years later and I happily sign Melanie Coffee Hesselberg, and sometimes I do it with a smirk thinking “Shows how much you know, Squinty Lady.”

Melanie Coffee is a freelance journalist in Oslo, Norway, and founder of She'