September 29, 2011

National Coffee Day

The idea of one day devoted to an integral part of daily life for most Americans is, in my mind, a bit silly. It's a bit like having "National Pants Day", or "National Food Day". But disregarding my feelings for the moment, today is National Coffee Day. As such, I feel compelled to write something of appropriate magnitude, a piece with scope and relatability for the masses.

After an hour of thinking, however, I've decided that I'm not that creative. I'm almost incapable, in truth, of coming up with ideas for posts. Rather, I simply write what's (more or less) handed to me. Someone or something hits the first domino, and my fingers simply fall in to place on the keyboard.

And so so here we are. I'm writing, not about the holiday at all, but about one fleeting moment - completely unacknowledged by all present.

We begin the scene at the tail end of something that might be mistaken for a rush, but is in fact much too easily handled to deserve such a title. I am making a latte, an act which might be like brushing my teeth at this point, if brushing my teeth were my most prized skill and object of total focus. Still, the process is a familiar one, and I execute it as such.

The espresso is beautiful, looking like rust and tasting like honey. The milk is opaque, as smooth as wax. I pour, tilting the cup and maintaining a pencil-width stream of milk. As the crema rises, I aim the nose of the pitcher down, and at the back of the cup. White begins to cascade, and I twitch my hand back and forth, doing my best mimic of a metronome. As the wave ripples, I pull the pitcher back, then push forward again.

The rosetta is nice to look at, but to my eye, unremarkable. I set it on the counter, nod to the customer, turn and wash the pitcher.

I hear, over the water, something like the misbegotten child of "wow", "ah", and "oh", then excited chatter. I don't know what they're saying, because it's Chinese. But I feel then like it's a holiday. They've told me as much, and convinced me when the calendar could not.

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