05 Nov My Homage to Coffee
A SUBDUED WHITE LIGHT EASED its way through the open window early this morning, along with fresh, cold air.
I turned on the stove, poured water into the graphite kettle, and placed it on top. With each exposure to the open flame, the metal on the bottom of the kettle tempers. Its polish has faded from a dark, metallic grey, into a faint spectrum of color.
With the fine coffee grounds in the strainer set on top of the glass carafe, I slowly poured the boiling water over the beans.
The mixture of the grounds and water produces a delightful smell that fills the room. The beans turn into a thick, caramel brown liquid; it darkens as the water settles and flows through the strainer into the carafe.
I love everything about coffee, far beyond its energizing powers. Coffee brings people together and livens our spirits; its smells and tastes soothe the mind and gratify the soul; its origin dates far back in history, from Ethiopia to the Arabian Peninsula, then to Europe and the Americas.
Still, coffee and the process of whipping up a cup has hardly changed.
What I’m drinking now fueled the rousing conversations of 16th-century coffee houses in Istanbul and the cafés of 18th-century Vienna.
A game of backgammon likely accompanied the first; the latter, a large piece of chocolate cake.
Drip, drip, drip. My initial pour has settled. Bubbles rise to the surface. The coffee has begun to bloom.
Blooming occurs when hot water collides with the beans like an asteroid striking earth and releases carbon dioxide into the air. The beans are like our planet, the asteroid, like the boiling water. Bear with me on this one; I like the metaphor.
The sound of the coffee straining into the glass vessel, the smell infusing with the cold outside air, the beautiful color arising from the process; these elements ignite my senses and remind me of my fondest coffee-filled memories.
When I smell coffee with vanilla or spices, I think of being a middle school kid who preferred coffee sweet, spicy, and with whipped cream on top to warm my soul on a cold December day.
When I lived in Florence, Italy, for a few months in college, I’d leave my apartment and cross the bustling street to step up to the bar at the corner café ran by identical twin brothers.
I’d sip my doppio espresso before class and munch on a croissant as I watched the line build next to my apartment to enter The Galleria dell’Accademia, the home of Michelangelo’s David.
I could never tell which brother was which, but I suppose they both made a mean espresso.
I love coffee, and I think I always will. The process of making coffee is simple, yet it requires mindfulness every morning.
When done well, it’s exceptional. When done poorly, it’s still pretty good.
Drinking coffee makes me happy. It reminds me of traveling the world and early mornings at home, late nights at diners and road trips with friends and family.
And, of course, it inspires me to start each day with a bang.