My favorite is with a drizzle of agave syrup and lots of whole milk (a new development in my coffee habit, since having kids has required I have at least a gallon of the good organic stuff in my fridge at all times.) But I’ll drink it with sugar and half-and-half – the way my husband likes it – or just about however it comes, since the manner in which I get my coffee isn’t as important as when.
Like I said, I’m a weekend kind of coffee drinker.
I never drank much coffee until I spent a winter in France and experienced the French style of coffee drinking. The French drink their coffee like it’s always the weekend, making it just to their liking (often black with at least four cubes of sugar) and then they actually sit down to drink it. There is no need to bring a travel mug to the corner coffee shop in France, since there is no such thing as coffee-to-go. As far as I could tell, the French had no desire to walk, drive, work, run errands, or do chores while drinking coffee. When it is time to drink coffee, they drink coffee. When it is time to walk, drive, work, run errands, or do chores, they do those things. Coffee-drinking is not a task with which the French multi-task.
I grew to love this style of coffee drinking, and it’s probably why I still want to drink coffee to this day. If I’m honest with myself, it isn’t the coffee I love, but rather the custom of sitting down for a handful of leisurely minutes to drink it I am most fond of.
Coffee has been on my mind lately because I haven’t had a proper cup in ages. There are two reasons for this: Emme and Elle. That is not to say that I haven’t had coffee since becoming a parent; I’ve experienced plenty of days in which caffeine was the wobbly crutch that helped me limp through motherhood’s sleep deprivation. But those cups were slurped down half-cold while I packed lunches and wiped baby bottoms, not while sitting down for a handful of minutes to savor the company of my coffee and nothing else.
Last weekend, I made it my goal to have a proper cup of coffee.
Craig and I took the girls to Moab for a long weekend (we were only mildly delusional in believing this weekend’s camping trip would actually deliver on some promise of being relaxing. We’re learning that having an extra day to settle into our camping routine increases our odds of finding a little time to kick back.) I didn’t even try to drink coffe on Friday morning, since we rolled in late the night before and were still in the setting-up-camp mode all that morning.
Saturday morning offered more promising prospects, and when I heard the first rumblings of the percolator on the stove and smelled its pungent aroma fill our Shasta camp trailer, I started to think that today could be the day.
Then, suddenly it seemed, the sun was blistering down like hot metal dripped onto our backs and it became clear that if we were going to go for a hike it would have to be soon. Somewhere in the midst of wiping bottoms and making lunches, I realized I’d never gotten around to pouring myself a cup. In a last-ditch effort, between post-breakfast clean-up and pre-car loading, I checked the percolator on the stove. The coffee was about as warm as the air temperature. My opportunity for my Saturday cup of coffee had disappeared as fast as the shade in our campsite.
Sunday would have to be the day.
The Sunday coffee was still fresh on the stove, the temperature outside still cool enough to drink it, when I poured myself a cup. But Sunday is checking-out-of-camp day, and not sitting-around-drinking-coffee day, so the call of duty got the better of me. I left my mug on the edge of the picnic table as I disassembled the camp table (which was, coincidentally, the most sensible place to sit and drink a cup of coffee, if one were to actually sit and drink a cup of coffee.)
I wouldn’t be so easily dissuaded from this weekend morning’s cup of coffee, however. I dumped the contents of my mug into a pan, whole milk and agave syrup and all, for a re-warming.
It was too hot to drink when I rescued it from the stove five minutes later, but I scraped the milk-film from its surface and poured it back into my mug. I will come back for you, I whispered as I placed it on the counter, I promise.
And I did come back for it, noting on my way into the trailer that there remained a small corner of shade and one unpacked camp chair on the far end of the campsite. Perfect, I thought. I will sit and I will drink coffee this morning. I will let Craig deal with Emme if she starts to cry. I will tell Elle to wait five minutes before requesting my assistance. I will sit, and I will enjoy this coffee.
A perfectly laid plan except that when I returned for my coffee it was no longer there. My husband had, in his quest to be helpful, dumped the contents of my lonely mug and tucked it away nice and clean into the pantry.
Is there really such a thing as a perfect cup of coffee? If it means slowing down to savor the moment and the company of only myself, then perhaps my perfect cup of coffee is merely a fantasy. But I’m not giving up hope just yet. This weekend, I’ll try again.