Medium Roast, Home Brew

The smell of the early morning coffee reminded me of the Sunday mornings back in India, where coffee was just a vacation drink. Tea used to be my go-to, but I secretly enjoyed coffee. I had gradually shifted from secretly liking it to being an open admirer as I moved to the US. Things that new places make you do! Almost three years now…

I admired my coffee because she used to patiently listen to my thoughts, hundreds of them. Mostly about how hard my day was going to be. I was performing my daily ritual of saying all my thoughts to my coffee. It was almost like a necessary ingredient, or she tasted bitter. Today was about getting me going with an article I was supposed to write and couldn’t kickstart.

You are a writer, she said.

You always write.

It’s not in ink every time.

But you always like to put your thoughts in words.

The words are like vessels that get filled with your thoughts. In fact, you find the perfect vessel until you are satisfied.

You don’t like it when people show off with colorful vessels that clutter you with unnecessary noise.

But sometimes you send some empty vessels too, meaningless stuff.

I didn’t like her last sentence, even though I knew it was true. Too bitter for a Monday morning, I add a sugar cube.

Would you like some cream? The air hostess asked me.

No thanks, I would like it black. Really? I didn’t like it black, ever. But milk is always served cold. And I liked my coffee piping hot. I was traveling to my home country after a year. The rush was overwhelming. I had been treated with the comfort of extra space and freedom for a long enough time, that this rush made me uneasy. I looked outside the small window, but It was too bright for 6:00 a.m. Just 2 more hours and we’ll be home. The 28-hour-long journey was taking its toll and I could feel my eyes giving up. The caffeine had given up on me too.

I woke up at 4:30 p.m. “Wake up lazy ass, he is here.” My roommate was banging on my door.

It was going to be the last day of my Tuesday coffee ritual. I was going to miss my time in LA, a lot! The final semester was especially a crazy ride. I enjoyed the evening strolls on breezy LA evenings. And the Californian skies never disappointed. I met him through a familiar friend. He was that smart kid who teaches you vital skills for life and just walks off as if it was his pastime.

He had recently found a less-known coffee place and I enjoying my newfound admiration for coffee agreed to go with him. It was an Australian roast. “Quite crisp” is how I had explained after my first sip. He went on to explain the science behind what crisp coffee means and why I enjoyed it so much as if he had read about it just before arriving at the cafe. I would bet that he had read it somewhere, years ago.

I started going out with him to the Australian cafe every Tuesday evening. It was a lovely ritual we liked to follow. He used to tell me about his week and rant about uninteresting lectures (classic - for a guy of that caliber). I used to mostly listen and speak seldom about how I felt my week was going. Frankly, I was there to listen and spend some extra time with him. I liked how he opened up over coffee tables. That’s when I knew I liked the people I met over coffee more than the coffee itself. I miss him.

They used to call me coffee in school. That’s a cool nickname, I thought to myself. She went on to explain how she had recited a banal story to the whole of her classroom…or something. I didn’t pay attention to her story, as always. I was lost, in her moving lips, her intermittently flashing dimples, and her beautiful voice. We were sitting in my college cafeteria and I was planning my move to the US.

“Would you like to try this cake?” That voice still rings in my ears.

“Which flavor is it?” I asked hesitantly.

“Tiramisu” That dimple was back again. (Memory is a funny thing - what a time to remember Murakami - I chuckled, at how perfectly I could remember her)

You never listen to what I say, she said softly. I tasted real coffee for the first time that day.

Back to my table, after this instant journey back home, a calendar notification broke my train of thoughts. Boring meetings again. I thought to myself, you don’t deserve to disturb the connection between me and my girl. But she was my past, this is my present. I reluctantly pressed “Join Meeting” and took a sip of my coffee.

Too sweet for me.

She was right.