I was driving among the crazy Italian drivers today – and while it is mean to classify all of the drivers here as crazy, today was particularly dicey – while sipping my coffee with my crocheted lavender coffee cozy. I was drinking it, basking in the few moments of sunlight streaming through my windows, tapping my fingers on the steering wheel to the sounds of old-school Weezer and Nirvana, and the same thought ran through my head that always runs through my head while imbibing this drink – damn, I love coffee!
I know that you’re thinking, “Really? You’re going to spend an entire post of coffee?” But I don’t think you understand – coffee is my dark mistress, my secret lover, my non-human passion outside of cooking and reading. It is the first thing I think about when I wake up, and it is on my mind throughout the day and even the night. It comforts me, it soothes me, it keeps me awake and sane, and it makes me smile.
People say that coffee is an acquired taste, but it was almost instant attraction for me. I remember first trying it at a very young age, and even though I did the typical kid “ack!” reaction, I still did not think it was too bad. I started drinking it in high school, since that is when Starbucks started hitting the Midwest. It was the cool thing to do when you were a teenager – it made you stand out as somewhat of a rebel, a person who followed a different path then the kids guzzling Mountain Dew before 7:00 am (oh believe me, I had those days too). I used to go to the Bettendorf Library on Sunday evenings when I was supposed to be going to church, and I would sit in their cafe with a book or homework, scrounging my change from the floor of my crappy car for caramel macchiato money. I would go to the local Barnes and Noble bookstore and sit for hours, reading books I would never buy and drinking cup after cup of coffee. Later, I worked for a gym and was in charge of opening on Sunday mornings. I made the coffee to open, then drank half of it just to stay awake for the 4 people that came in at 7:00 am on a Sunday to work out. I grew to both love and depend on coffee, and as all love affairs go, my dependence continued to grow.
As mentioned in a previous blog, I was married and pregnant at an early age. I gave up coffee for the pregnancy, with only an occasional cup, but a coffee maker was always present on my kitchen counter. After the birth of my first child, the need and desire for coffee skyrocketed! Of course I needed the caffeine, but coffee became a small luxury that we could afford. I started drinking it black and then added espresso. Every time we moved, a coffee maker was the first thing unpacked and had the best placement on every kitchen counter. With each new neighborhood or city, I would find the best Starbucks or local coffee place and make friends with the workers – when people know your order before you walk in, you have a problem. I would make whole pots to drink for midnight study sessions (and still do). For Christmas presents, Andy has bought me an electric coffee press and an expensive coffee bean grinder/maker – he knows me so well. One of my favorite places I have ever visited is the original Starbucks in Seattle, located across from Pike Place Market (technically, this is the second location of the first store, meaning it is the second store, but don’t ruin it for me). I love it there – they have kept the setup and the process of ordering and making the coffee the same as the day it opened. You see cups flying, orders being shouted over the large crowd of people, and you will wait at least 20 minutes for even a simple cup of coffee. I still love it. Coffee became more than just a necessary evil in the morning or a cap to a good dinner. Coffee was my obsession and a love. I loved all types of coffee, cold or hot coffee, even coffee ice cream. We were as one….scary, right?
Then we moved to Italy – the home of the greatest coffee, of espresso and coffee bars where Italians make drinking coffee look like an art form. I was beyond excited, and the first place I wanted to go after sleeping from the long travel was to get coffee. News flash – totally different environment here. No Wi-fi in the bars, no to-go cups, no 1,000 different ways to customize your drink. We walked from our hotel to a coffee/pastry shop, and I ordered a cappuchino. It was…(cue angelic “alleluias” from heaven). It was made with a foamy heart on top, so pretty I almost didn’t want to drink it. The taste was amazing – strong, yet flavorful. I soon learned that Italians use stovetop espresso makers to make “cafe normale” – or something like espresso. We American drink some weak coffee. 🙂 I made sure to get my own as soon as possible, a Hello Kitty one, of course. I may not always like living here, but the coffee is a wonderful bonus. I have never had a cup of coffee here that I did not love.
With life as crazy as it is now, I find myself reaching for that coffee more and more. It’s always for the caffeine, because I am a mom of 3 with a husband gone who spends a ridiculous time outside the home for not having a job. But it is also so comforting for me. This is something that never changes, is always available (because I am NEVER out of coffee), and can still bring a smile to my face. I have given up so many bad habits already in my life, and I always tell Andy that coffee is my last vice left that I am not giving up. As I stumble down the stairs with half-open eyes every morning and pour that dark concoction into one of my fabulous collection of random mugs, I feel safe and happy. That coffee maker still claims the best place on my limited counter space. And I have finally found the best combination of coffee for my morning brew – 2/3 medium roast coffee, 1/3 espresso powder. I’ve been perfecting this blend for years and think I finally have it just right!
Til death do us part – I hope coffee doesn’t kill me someday, but what a way to go…