Monday, September 2, 2013

Thoughts on Coffee

     A few days ago my father and I were scoffing at this ridiculous ad you may have seen about a product called 5 Hour Energy Drink.  The advertisement shows a guy getting up in the morning, going to his cupboard, and taking out this four inch little bottle of drink that is supposed to give him more energy than a cup of coffee--or several cups--without the mess or hassle of coffee.  Just take a shot of this energy drink and off you go!
     The advertisement misconstrues the whole idea of the morning coffee.  The morning coffee is about the aroma and the warmth, about the slow ritual of the first delicious sweet bitter taste. In fact, Folger's had an ad some time ago that called their coffee "the best part of waking up."  I'd say they're on the right track--much better than waking up for a swallow of acrid room temperature energy drink.  That's like going into a big day without taking time to shower.
     When I was a kid, from time to time my dad would ask me to go make him a cup of coffee.  It was instant coffee and I'd make it and carry it to him (he would be fixing a car or the washing machine or inevitably doing something with tools or a shovel), and as I walked being careful not to spill, I would breathe in the smell of the whispering steam rising above the cup and know that when I was a grownup, I would be a coffee drinker too.
     Italians call American coffee "cafe lungo" or a long coffee because we use more water than they do.  But they drink their coffee standing up.  There is a pleasure in it and ritual, but it's of a different kind.  It's about the presentation: the cup, the saucer, the little spoon, sometimes that little doily under the cup.  And the ritual: the time of day, the location, the tempo and grace of the barista, the shaking of the sugar packet, and the sharp, rich taste of the coffee taken in two swallows.
     My father drinks his morning coffee slow, outdoors, and so do I.  And interestingly, so does my oldest son.  This morning coffee time is the time to contemplate the day, to take stock of the past and the present.  It's a time out of time, a few minutes to observe, to feel yourself on the planet, to notice or think in a way that you might not get to do as the day goes freight-training by.
    At my house, I sit out back here and watch the sky, and today the rain.  The back porch has a tin roof  and the rain taps happily there.  Or sometimes I sit under the sun umbrella, and there I love the sound of the rain.  It is muted and reminds me of the cozy, sleepy rain-on-a-tent sound.



  1. It's funny how ritualistic we are. I love to get up early and have my coffee while I read my email, before getting ready for work.

  2. Frankly, I think those high energy shots are not good for the body or the mind. Enjoy your coffee; I prefer a cup of hot chocolate to sit at. We each have our own rituals.

  3. That's exactly how I feel about my morning cup of tea. It's the ritual as much as the flavour or caffeine content of the drink. I drink coffee too and make it in either a stove top espresso pot or a cafeteire/french press. Again, it's about the ritual and making time for yourself to sit and enjoy the flavour. How nice that you can sit outside whatever the weather and enjoy your brew. x

  4. It looks so lush and moist there....

    Mr. M loves his coffee. Every cup is a little ritual for him. He enjoys it best with pastry of some kind, or, failing that, a few chocolate chips and some raisins stirred into peanut butter.

    Tea for me, but the ritual is the same. I can't drink it on the go; I must be sitting down, ideally with something to read and a little something to eat with it.

    P.S. When I was (much) younger, every so often my dad would ask me to make him a cup of coffee. (Instant - Taster's Choice I think.) He always told me I made "a good cup of coffee" - which was very sweet considering you couldn't go wrong with a spoonful of powder and boiling water. :)