Saturday, November 13, 2010

The coffee ritual

Saturday, November 11, 2010, 11:47 PM
Oxford has been unseasonably warm for the past few weeks, temperatures up in the seventies! Since it was too hot to be outside much this summer, I have been trying to take advantage of the warm temperatures by being outside as much as possible. I got to spend this morning drinking coffee with my neighbors while their kids played with Frannie and Eloise.
My coffee ritual is one of my favorite parts of the day. Sharing its mysteries with my neighbors made me feel like an evangelist for Starbucks (or a drug pusher).
Preparing for the ritual doesn't need any special raiments or a pure heart, but clean tools are needed for successful completion. I start by carefully cleaning out my stove top espresso maker. Next I carefully put water in the bottom, being careful not to go over the steam valve. Then I put in the basket and two or three scoops of espresso ground coffee (I only buy beans in stores that have grinders with an “espresso” setting); usually I use a bold, dark roasted bean, like French Roast or Sumatran. On the opposite end of the scoop's handle is flat disk that is used to tamp the coffee down. The final step is to screw on the pot on top put it on the burner, set on high.
Soon the water will boil, turn to steam and push the hot water through the grounds. I can watch the thick, black stream of coffee come out of the spout inside the pot. Soon the coffee covers the bottom of the pot and the crema (layer of foam) starts to build up . This is the best time to stick my nose over the pot and inhale the delicious sweet, almost peanut like aroma of the freshly made coffee. Because of its delicate chemical nature, the smell quickly disappears like the green flash at sunset in the tropics.
Watching the steam rise like the tails of invisible kites, I reverently bring my mug of espresso to my nose and think about all the promise for today that is within. I focus my concentration to the brown black contents of my mug, beckoning me to share its mysteries. Gently inhaling the promise and hope to be discovered today, I softly recite the magic spell, “ Coffee good!”
I can’t believe it is nearly noon and I’m still in my pajamas.
3:13 PM

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