The enjoyment of a good cup of coffee has always been one of life’s greatest and most simple pleasures. But things have changed a lot in the last year.
Remember the days when you could wake up in the morning and before you arrive at work, stop off at your favorite coffee shop? You could order your exact favorite and drink it in minutes, savoring the joy in each sip. Maybe you were a caramel latte sort of person, with a generous helping of whipped cream and a drizzle (or three) of syrup on top. Or maybe, like me, you enjoyed the simplicity of flat white, the perfect size for your morning brew.
I miss those days which seem so far away now. Stepping into the shop with the smell of freshly ground espresso filling my nose, providing a small moment of escape. Standing at the till and browsing the selection of specially-curated Italian coffee brands, all in order to find the perfect match, the best coffee to start the day. Taking that first sip: sweet foam, hot milk and then smooth, delicious espresso. This was normality, this was life before Covid-19.
In the days before, I’d journey round the city browsing the shops, dipping in and out of cafes, bars and restaurants without a second thought. I’d text a friend and in minutes, we’d sit outside our favorite coffee shop, mug in hand. We would laugh and we would sip and then we would laugh some more, maskless and without a care in the world. Between us, we’d share a plate of cheery coffee cake, and when we had polished off every crumb, we would go back and order another slice. And probably two more espressos for good measure.
I’d often visit bookshops with a coffee shop nestled in their backs. I’d trace the spines, deciding what to read, getting closer and closer to the smell of what’s brewing at the other side of the store. I’d choose a book and read the blurb to the rhythm of beans grinding, milk steaming, families and couples and colleagues lost in conversation. Once perfectly packaged in the familiar paper cup, I’d take the coffee outside onto the street. I’d nod at others passing by with their coffees in hand, eager to take the first sip. Those small moments, captured in the pour of a good brew.
For the last year, safety has been more important, but it has come at a price. I’ve spent months waking up to a cold kitchen, scooping instant coffee into a mug that’s either too big or too small whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. Texts exchanged between friends, wishing we could enjoy a cup together. Thinking about all of the books unread and the brews undrunk. Dreaming of perfect ground espresso, sipped from the perfect cup.
I can’t wait to return to these times and experience the freedom and spontaneity that coffee inspires. Running to catch the train with a cup in hand; bumping into an old friend in the cafe; finding the real Italian brand that suits me best.
All of these moments, created by coffee.