Coffee Encounters Captured
I'd be lying if I said I like coffee. I don't particularly like coffee. What I like is the experience of drinking coffee. The cafes themselves. Placing the order, especially in Spanish or Italian. Watching the deliberate, well-measured gestures of the barista. Waiting. The flourish of the presentation. The tiny little cup. The foam on top of the capuccino. The sugar as it sits atop the foam for a brief moment, and then the slow descent, the fall through the frothy platform into the strong, hot liquid energy below. The quiet time to think, pray, journal, prepare mentally for the day ahead. Time to sit. In the cafe. In the moment. To remind myself: I am in Spain. Madrid. Italy. Rome. Alone. At peace. The surge of adrenalin as the surge of caffeine surges through my veins.
No, it's not really the coffee.
It's the moment. The place. The memory.
Here are a few of my favorite coffee encounters from my recent European adventure.
This first photo comes from Orio, the coffee and bread shop that was my regular breakfast joint when I took the children with me in the spring of 2005 and lived in Madrid for a month. Some of the same ladies still work there. All of the women recogized "the regulars" and offered to make them "the usual." Gotta love that, especially in a city the size of Madrid.
Illy enjoyed in the galleria on the corner of the Via del Tritone and the Via del Corso in Roma. The Espressamente cafe.
Actually, this wasn't coffee; this photo is of the cup, tea strainer, and other goodies needed to enjoy a pot of tea at La Baguette. Red berry tea. Please do not fail to notice the slice of linzer cake topped with confectioner's sugar and a small dollop of whipped cream. Dessert for dinner - oh, yeah!
On one of the rainy Rome mornings, I ducked into a tiny little place called Bar Milano just across from the church of San Luigi dei Francesi, the chiesa where I sat through a mass in French. A capuccino for 95 euro cents; that's about $1.45. Nice. Two gentlemen standing at the register when I walked in. I took my place in line behind them. We each placed our order and paid at the register. The woman who took our orders and our few coins then crossed the cafe to make the drinks herself. Perfect.
As I left, she called out, "Arrivederci." Farewell. Her tone of voice seemed to express, "See you soon." Maybe that was just wishful thinking on my part.
Finally, it was time to say farewell to Europa. At Rome's Fiumicino Airport, I bellied up to the bar and ordered not one, but two, capuccini. Four packs of sugar. (Did I mention that I like the sugar??!!) A slow farewell to the well-established morning ritual. Farewell to my 2nd favorite European city. Farewell to yet another great solo adventure. Not sure if you can see it in this photo, but the cup on the left had a heart-shaped foam topping.
Beginning in 2005 on that trip with the children, I established the habit of collecting many of the empty sugar packets - making sure to shake every grain of sugar out of them - and gluing them into my journal. Every time I flip through my travel journals, I come face-to-packet with the memory of coffee, of quietness, of a journey well-traveled. Nearly every sugar packet used in the coffee cups pictured on this post resides in the journal seen in the bottom photo. Inexpensive reminders of dearly cherished times.