Honoré de Balzac drank 50 cups of coffee a day. Honoré de Balzac lacked dedication. He allowed himself to get too distracted by his writing. I am more devoted to the coffee cause.
Every morning, before anything else can happen, I watch the kettle boil in anticipation of the ‘click’ that signals the best part of my day is about to begin. Everything is ready. The coffee granules have been poured into my favourite cup. Poured. I have moved beyond measuring spoonfuls of powder. As soon as the water hits the coffee, the smell can turn any dark, grey Monday morning into a technicolour world.
People who think of coffee as just a beverage will never truly understand. Coffee is more than just a drink. It is an extension of my body, a considered part of my interactions. A social shield. A slow, satisfying sip lets me gather my thoughts without an awkward pause or it can help me hide my real thoughts by drowning the words on the tip of my tongue. Any nervous fidgeting is masked by the cup in my hand. Everyone is more confident if they are holding a hot drink.
Coffee can also be a social bridge. “Would you like to grab some coffee?” is a clear sign that I value your companionship, that I trust that you will not ruin my hourly trip to the cafe or kitchen. People bond over their choices of coffee. Americano. Latte. Cappuccino. Flat White. Flat Black. You nod in appreciation when someone orders the same drink as you. It is a sign of understanding. Macchiato respect.
Of course, some people use coffee to divide the world. There are the purists who claim coffee should only ever be black, short and unsweetened. Some want the benefits of coffee without any of the bitterness – they buy coffees that are more milk and sugar than actual coffee. Most people want a coffee somewhere in between these two extremes. Those who seek to use coffee to divide us forget that we are united by coffee. Brazilian beans are brewed in the Bronx. Coffea canephora from across Africa can be enjoyed in Camden Cafes. If there was one drink that represents the rise of the Global Village it is coffee.
‘Really? Another one?’, the barista asks me after a particularly long day.
‘It’s my last cup’, I lie. I’m already thinking about the coffee I’ll make when I get home. I’m already thinking about the joy of that first cup in the morning.