There are some simple pleasures in my life that while on the surface seem very mundane give me great joy. One of these things is a cup of coffee.
I can not remember time when coffee was not a part of my life. The sweet nectar of the gods, is a part of my earliest memories.The sound of the coffee pot, the aroma drifting through the house first thing in the morning, my parents smiling as they took their first sip of the day and signs of life returned to their faces.
My mom, in particular, seemed to have an iron stomach and a high tolerance for caffeine. She would have a pot on all day ever ready to fill her cup. Wherever my mom was, rest assured, her coffee cup was near by.
In my youth the aroma of coffee and the images of people bonding over a cup of Joe were much more satisfying than the actual taste. On more than one occasion I remember taking a sip of black coffee and thinking ” Yuck. Why do people drink this stuff?” Still, as I headed off to college I found myself relying more and more on the beverage to wake me up in the morning and help me get through late night study sessions. I began to like the taste but coffee was something I took for granted. It wasn’t just the caffeine pick me up I took for granted, I took the social bonding that coffee creates I took for granted as well.
It wasn’t until my mid 30’s that I realized that making a great cup of coffee was an art. In an attempt to suppliant my income as a private music teacher I began a part-time job as a coffee barista. Even though I have not retained any of my barista skills, my time as a barista was an enlightening experience and I still carry an appreciation for anyone who can make a great cup of coffee. I learned that a great cup of coffee did not just happen. So many factors went into a good cup of coffee. Where the coffee bean was grown, the temperature of the water and milk, the grind of the coffee etc. all were taken into account by serious baristas. I never looked at coffee the same way again.
As much as I enjoy visiting coffee shops here in the states, my appreciation for enjoying coffee rose to new levels when I visited Italy last year. I knew that Italians enjoyed their espresso but actually experiencing the cafe’s and watching how Italians take a pause in their day to leisurely enjoy their espresso was magical. There didn’t seem to be the high levels of multitasking and urgency to get back to work that is so common here. I felt like people were truly taking a break. A deliberate pause from their duties and responsibilities.
For many years now I have done my best to slow down and smell the coffee. It may be a latte from a coffee shop or a cup I make myself. Any cup can be a perfect cup if it is brewed and enjoyed with a grateful hart. It is how I start my day. Sometimes I am fortunate enough to meet a friend for coffee but often it is just me taking a moment to start my day on a bright note.
There are days when I am rushed and hurriedly grab my travel mug as I rush out the door. There are days when I run into the teacher’s lounge between classes desperate for a cup of coffee to calm my nerves. I am human, after all. These are never my best days. My best days are when I am intentional about drinking a cup of coffee with a grateful heart and quiet mind.
As always, I would love to hear from you. Are you a regular coffee drinker? Maybe you have had a similar experience appreciating a good beer,wine, or chocolate.
Until next time,