Home       Articles       Books       Food        Contact

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Morning Cup

My cousin just remodeled her kitchen. It’s amazing. She has a stove that cooks food with an induction system and can actually sense when a pan has been removed from the heat-source, in which case it will automatically turn off. And you don’t have to wait for the stove to heat-up. It’s instantaneous. So is the hot water, which comes boiling hot out of the tap if you want it to.

Making the coffee has never been easier. Dump the grinds in the bistro, place it under the spicket and voila: your morning brew. But even that method is somewhat passé with the advent of George Clooney’s Nespresso machine (all the rage here in France). Put the capsule in and out comes a perfect cappuccino.

But isn’t this missing the point almost entirely? Preparing the perfect cappuccino is a goal—you should have to work for it. It’s an achievement of sorts, small as it may be. Like completing a crossword puzzle or solving a rubik’s cube, or making the perfect pie crust. These are the small rewards of daily life that give us affirmation.

One of the things I miss from home is the green iron kettle that used to sit on my stovetop. I never moved it because I used it every morning to make coffee. First thing after stumbling out of bed, I filled it with water and lit the stove. Then I ground the beans. The sound of beans being poured into the grinder followed by the scent of freshly milled coffee was a welcome greeting. The kettle let out a low hum, telling me it was time to add the water.

Boiling water blended with fresh beans creates foam. If you pour slowly and stop periodically to stir the brew, you end up with a beautiful crema on top of your coffee. Pour this very patiently into you cup and it will end up on top of your coffee in the same way a Nespresso machine tries to manufacture it.

I’ve made, I don’t know, a couple thousand cups of coffee in my lifetime. And doing this is still something that gives me pleasure every morning. I genuinely look forward to sitting down with a good cup of coffee and that part of my day is one of my favorites.

Coffee isn’t just a drink, it’s a ritual. A habit that we come to expect each day. You can count on it whether you’re in America or France or away on holiday. It’s sort of like identifying your favorite constellation to remind yourself that you’re never really too far from home. Only you can do it when the stars have gone to sleep. That’s why a bad cup of coffee is such a let down.

I embrace new technology, especially when it comes to the kitchen. But there are some things that shouldn’t be automated—like bread, piecrust, and coffee. They are as much about preparation as they are about consumption. And you can taste the difference.


Anonymous said...

Greetings from the mouth of Cape Cod, MA, Tonya,
Well said and very well written. I agree. Sometimes I only go downstairs with the hope of a good cup of coffee. In Paris, I learned to order "American" coffee if I wanted a BIG cup...

Eileen St. Lauren said...

Above coffee post was from Eileen St. Lauren