Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Whole Cup

For some odd reason, I really crave going to coffee shops.  I'm not some snobby know-it-all coffee barista or connoisseur.  It's not that I'm looking for an escape from home, although it is a good excuse not to do household chores.  It's not that I'm looking for friends or someone to talk to.  It's not the coffee that lures me in.  It's not the ambiance, although I do like a certain local shop for it's funky decor and art.  But really no, it's not that either.  I mean Dunkin Donuts does not have ambiance.  Starbucks tries, but there's bound to be trash on the floor, crumbs in the leather chairs, and someone talking a bit too loudly. When we went to Seattle, we bypassed the original Starbucks store, on our way to brunch at a place a little fancier.  On the way back we passed it again and were not about to wait an hour in line just to see the inside of a cute little shoebox of a store. No, not the ambiance.  Maybe the smell, no.  Maybe the cool-looking, hip people.  No.  The real reason is that I can pretty much count on one thing at a coffee shop - getting to drink the whole cup.

You see, every morning I use my hip little Italian one-cup stovetop coffee brewer.  It was perfect for camping across the country and it still works just as well.  I get up early, shower, put my coffee on, do my hair, and then when the coffee's ready - wham! - something happens and I don't get to drink a hot, whole cup.  Even if I'm good and prepared and have my travel mug ready to go, with all my stuff by the door, and I make it out to the car and am accompanied on the way to work by a hot steaming travel mug, I don't finish it.  White-knuckle driving or singing to the music or some other far-off day-dreaming keep my distracted from my cup.

At work, forget it.  I even tried to take in a hot carafe of coffee, the big kind with the silver lining that pretty much ensured that the coffee stayed hot for a good three hours, sure that at some given moment in the day I would be able to savor a whole hot cup, but alas.  Someone or something always interferes, and even if it seems worth it, like good conversation or a productive meeting, it leaves me feeling sad. Always my mug goes home with a few table spoons of coffee swirling around in the car, that inevitably spill on my coat, my books or my lap as I load it up for the long cold drive home.

And so it is that the only place in my happy little life that I have the chance to savor a whole hot cup in one complete and productive sitting is in a coffee shop.  Thank heaven for them!  This must have been the same allure for Parisians hundreds of years ago as they sat on the squares under fanciful umbrellas at cute little chairs and tables just right for two cups or three, sipping and gossiping and looking and talking and philosophizing and finally getting to the bottom of it all - the bottom of the cup.

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