Wednesday, 23 December 2015
Coffee is Music
The coffee was exceptionally good this morning. I’m not sure why - maybe it was the new French Press I used, or the water was just the right temperature, or maybe I was just especially in the mood for it. To be honest, the reason doesn’t really matter. The fact is that it was delicious and brought back a lovely memory.
A few years ago, 2003 to be exact, I had the pleasure of going to Rome, Florence, and Venice. Italy is a beautiful place to visit – the people, the art, the sites, and of course, the food. Because we were travelling with Eurail passes, we spent a fair amount of time in the train terminals. As you might expect, along with throngs of suitcase-toting travellers, there were shops and kiosks and wonderful little places to eat or grab a cup of coffee. Instead of something like a restaurant where you might sit to drink the coffee or have a pastry, there were groups of high round tables (the kind you might see on your patio with an umbrella sticking out), right out in the terminal and no chairs anywhere. I was so confused when I first saw this. You want me to have a cup of coffee while standing? I just didn’t get it.
Fortunately, the further south we travelled, the more elastic the time became. This gave us ample opportunity between trains to people watch. After a bit of observation, the purpose of the chairless tables became clear – people would order and pick up their coffee from the Barista’s station on the side and walk over to one of the tables. They almost never set their cup down, but instead held the saucer in one hand and sipped quickly from the cup in the other hand. Because they were usually drinking their rich, dark espresso from a demi-tasse, they simply didn’t need to take time from their busy schedules to sit to drink their coffee. They really spent only a few moments standing before moving on to their day.
As I sat there thinking about this, contemplating the elegant simplicity of it, I noticed something else – the Barista. How graceful he was, how fluid his movements behind the counter. Steaming and tapping, washing and spinning. I remember the sounds of the newly washed dishes clinking, the metal spoons clicking, the milk being steamed and swirled, the cappuccino maker hissing and burbling – all of it taking on a lyrical quality. The Barista was conducting a symphony with the utensils and dishes as his instruments. It was lovely music – and it makes me smile just thinking about it.