To Read the Past in Coffee Grounds, Tea Leaves for the Future

You asked me, dear friend, why. I think I know why I think of you every time I have coffee these days, despite the years and years I’ve been drinking it, despite its everyday-ness, despite my other rituals of coffee. Because I do think of you, yes, every time.

Do you know what’s so special about this bean? Do you know what’s magical about it? I’m talking beyond it’s complexity, with all its varied chemicals beside the caffeine, beyond the subtleties of flavor, or the many ways to make it. It is something I am in love with–have been so since high school when every day, a former boyfriend would bring me a cup from the doughnut place, overladen with milk and sugar. Coffee, dear friend, isn’t a beverage. Every day, waiting for my former boyfriend to arrive with that Styrofoam cup, no not a drink, but an event. It is a patient magic.

I’ve sat in coffee shops over a breve, talking, gaming, laughing and enjoying, but I never quite got it until I sat in on a friend’s baccalaureate exam. Her thesis was about tea. She said something quite interesting– there is this idea in our culture around tea consumption, that it is a slow thing, a savored thing. But coffee is fast. NOW. GO GO GO! (But I waited, in the morning, for my former to arrive, cup in hand, and then we waited for the bell, cups to lips, and in between sips, flurries of words, before the time struck and we downed the rest and off to class)

There is a secret to coffee, dear one. There is a secret, and I showed it to you, that day in my room. I had taken out my French press, pressed for you and me a rich dark French roast (the water must boil and cool a bit, and you must wait about four minutes for the ground beans to steep before you press). I served it to you full of real cream, half a shot of Irish cream, and dark chocolate shavings on the top (you go slowly if you want them to curl in long strips and sit in spirals before melting). We lounged there, in my room, talking (hours?), and we didn’t finish our cups. Dear one, it was that slow patient magic. And all those times, you and I in coffee shops, you with your latte, and I with my breve? (I do like it rich) Slow like a summer day, even in the middle of fall, the middle of winter.

I think I know why I think of you every time I drink coffee these days. My coffee is a slow thing, a waited-for event. You were the first to wait with me over a cup.

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