I never liked coffee. It was sharp, bitter and too hot. Probably because, when we were little and asked for coffee, my mum would make us this tiny cup of coffee with the strongest coffee imaginable, making an Italian Espresso seem too weak to come out of the cup…
I learned to drink it when visiting England. With my best (college) friend we went for a walk on Malvern Hill with a wonderful friend, who’d brought a flask of hot coffee. My friend suggested I loaded it with sugar, and you know what? I quite liked it! After that, I drank coffee with milk and lots of sugar. Until I moved to England. I still drink it stronger than the usual brown water around here, but I only use one sweetener now.
Part of drinking coffee is ritual. I have my large mug, called my bucket, pronounced bouquet. It has a lovely red woollen jumper. It has an extra-long coloured spoon and feels just right in my hands. In the Netherlands, you leave the spoon in the cup when drinking. This spoon has the perfect feel to it.
When the kids arrived, I realised that getting coffee was almost impossible. Until some kind friends moved to America, leaving some of their electric appliances with us. One of them was an instant hot water maker. My days were made! I prefer instant coffee, so all I need to do is put two scoops of coffee in the mug, a sweetener, stick it under the water contraption whilst grabbing the milk from the fridge, and within seconds, my perfect coffee is ready to drink! It’s not scorching hot, but hot enough to count as a hot drink.
Now, here’s a trick for those of you with young children, or if you struggle to sit down with a coffee once you’re up and moving about. You see, when the kids arrived, as soon as I poked my head out of my bedroom door, they were needing me. A lot. Up till then, they would happily play in their rooms. So I started taking a flask with hot coffee upstairs. I would make a scorching hot coffee, put it into a flask, and stand it on my bedside table. In the morning, all I had to do was drag myself into a sitting position, and enjoy my hot coffee. My favourite flask had a special ring, so I could drink straight from the flask, without pouring it into a mug. Nowadays, hubby gets up before me and brings me a mug full of perfect coffee.
Another usage of coffee? I started using meal replacement shakes. The ones I use are delicious and healthy, without much sugar, but lots of protein. The flavour I have is salted caramel, and I add two teaspoons of instant coffee to the mix. I have a special split beaker, with a small compartment underneath the shaker beaker itself. For days out, I put the milk in the beaker, the protein powder and coffee in the small compartment. When it’s lunchtime, I simply tip the dry powder into the milk, shake and drink.
(The best way to use coffee is in a cake. I don’t eat cake, except for this one incredible coffee and chocolate cake. But that’s a blog post in itself. There’s also my mum’s amazing mocha cake…)
Like I said, drinking coffee for me is more about the ritual. The smell, the feel of my mug and the taste of coffee. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to give me that wonderful boost of energy other people talk about. It doesn’t normally keep me awake at night either. That’s probably to do with being Dutch, haha, we are immune against coffee issues!
I love knowing what other people drink, and how they take their coffee. Does it say something about their character? Maybe. It might just say something about their background, their experience and their history. Is it healthy? I doubt it! But it gives me so much pleasure, and a wonderful way to sit down, read, chat and cuddle with my kids. It’s a way to connect with friends. It’s a way to still myself and to think, to imagine stories and meditate on God’s word, to pray.
So I’ll sit here this morning, hugging my special mug, thinking of friends and family, smiling, praying for you all.