Coffee Mug, Interrupted

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Upon starting as an Administrative Assistant at a manufacturing plant in New York, I was given a tour of the long building by the fifty-something head Administrator. She had short auburn curls, wore wire rimmed glasses, and kept her lips tightly pursed as though everything big or small, alive or inanimate, tested her patience. Slight of figure, she dressed like a 1960’s high society woman in sheath dresses with three quarters sleeves and matching flats.

The tour wrapped up in the kitchen, where the Administrator beckoned to the sink laden with used coffee mugs.

“You are to wash anything left here by other employees.” I thought she was joking, but her pursed lips told otherwise. Employees were supposed to wash their own mugs and store them upside down on the drying rack, but didn’t, and evidently it was my problem.

“Now, where to keep your mug,” the Administrator wondered aloud, as she tapped her rosebud mouth with her pointer figure and scanned the kitchen.

Why not the drying rack, same as everyone else’s? I wondered.

There was no space in the entire kitchen to store my coffee mug, determined the Administrator. 

“Follow me,” she said, holding the mug I’d brought from home far from her body as though carrying a bag of dog doo.

I followed her obediently as she zigged and zagged, got up on her tiptoes and crouched down low, looking for a good storage option somewhere in the building. Aside from the room where products were made, literally the rest of the property was designed for storage of said products.

I found myself standing with the Administrator in the reception office’s single-occupant bathroom. 

“Ah!” she exclaimed exuberantly. “Here we go!” 

Beneath the sink was a cupboard, which the Administrator opened. She hinged forward and set my mug on the top shelf, just above the stockpile of toilet paper. Closing the cupboard doors, she rose with her pink lips upturned in a prim smile. One more crisis averted, one more battle won, one more feat accomplished. 

I frowned at the cupboard, then at the Administrator’s back as she left the bathroom.

I’d rather just keep it in my hand, thanks! I wanted to call after her.

After all, what was the plan for when another employee beat me to the bathroom with a newspaper tucked under their arm? Would I knock on the door and ask the occupant to please pass me the mug from the cupboard? 

I never touched the mug again, needless to say. It’s probably still in that cupboard, collecting dust and spiders.

Acquired Tastes

Coffee: a brilliant, blinding light from heaven

Source: Wikimedia Commons

They say coffee is an acquired taste. However, it is one which I instantly developed upon trying a sip from my dad’s mug at age seven. He took his coffee just as any child would – sweet and creamy.

From that moment onward, I was a coffee-seeking missile. I took it wherever I could get it – mixed into the homemade hot chocolate Dad ladled out for us in the blustery New England winters to the self-service carafe at my uncle’s wedding where I guzzled mug after mug in between contra dancing with my siblings and other guests on the dance floor.

Though cautioned that the beverage would stunt my growth, this turned out not to be a science-based statement. I enjoyed as much coffee as I could get my little hands on, while still achieving a perfectly reasonable height of 5’7”.

The single greatest discovery of my teens was the latte. Forget boys and weed – espresso was where it was at!

I recently attended a cupping event led by an expert who encouraged us not to view coffee simply as a commodity. After the event concluded, I was quick to share with him that I’d always cherished coffee. Like a god in a mug, I worshiped that warm, wafting beverage. I feel consistently grateful for every brewed coffee and iced latte that makes its way into my hands.

From the maple syrup/cinnamon/oat milk latte I used to get daily at Oslo, the coffee shop next to my apartment building in Midtown Manhattan, to the dirty iced chai at Gregorys (made with a shot of espresso added to the chai!), I have cherished each and every coffee experience. There are even a few excellent canned coffees, like La Columbe Triple Shot Draft Latte, Nitro Beverage Co. coconut cold brew, and Blue Bottle bold cold brew.

I’ve enjoyed iced vanilla lattes at Brühbar in Leipzig, Tahitian vanilla iced lattes sweetened with house made syrup at Aina Gourmet Market in Maui, to endless macchiatos in Rome, sipped while standing at the marble top bar in shop after shop. I’ve visited coffee farms in Costa Rica and Hawaii and hope to visit many more across the globe.

Coffee has been a stalwart companion my entire life. It enhances any enjoyable occasion and picks one up when one is down. It gives energy and focus to some. Not for me, unfortunately – I can drink it right before bed and still rest easy for eight hours. But I continue to enjoy the taste and the luxurious experience of coffee after all these years.

I wonder what’ll be next in my coffee adventures. Attending an Ethiopian coffee ceremony? Roasting and grinding my own beans? Has anyone tried making Kopi Luwak in collaboration with squirrels?