My husband makes me coffee every morning. Unless he is ill or away — both rare occasions — he has practiced this morning ritual for years.
There had been a morning routine of grinding whole beans using a standard electric grinder for our respective coffee preferences: his an Aeropress, mine a Moka pot. Everyday he ground the beans, nuanced to suit the individual coffee maker, as best he could with the small electric push-button grinder. Two kinds of fine, the Aeropress more so than the Moka pot.
The coffee has always been excellent, and a gesture of love.
Recently, after a long wait, we finally invested in a burr grinder. Our coffee experience, already grand, has been transformed.
The first day of the first grind, our coffees exploded with flavor and smell, the result of utilizing the super accurate settings for our respective brews. Adding a few more tools, like a thermometer and a timer for steeping the Aeropress (or to a Sunday French press), he is able to make the experience that much better. Now, every morning, every bean does what it should be freed to do: It sings.
This is the result of many things, of course, but first and foremost it is because my husband honors the coffee and the experience of making it; he honors the process and journey — from grower to harvester, from driver to producer, from whole bean to grind to pour. He does it mindfully, and, thus, meditatively, and with care and consideration and love.
In his hands, he considers the instruments and equipment, the different grids, the varying water temperatures and steep times, the different operations. And then he thinks about how it was roasted. Is it light, medium, dark? How it smells upon opening the bag, after the grind, from the brew.
Often in the mornings, I can hear the burr grinder and the “ting” of metal on the countertop or stove. Then I can smell it — first the ground beans, then his poured Aeropress coffee — as the aromas rise up the stairs, under the door, through the draft, and into the bedroom. That’s when I know where he is in the house. Then I might hear him ascend the stairs to sit (on the squeaky modern recliner chair) and read with his coffee, or possibly toward his office down the hall to write code.
After I awaken and descend the stairs, I can see my whole coffee situation awaiting: little handleless, ceramic, earth-toned cup made by a ceramicist in Michigan; moka pot at the ready, illuminated by the overhead microwave light. Often, there is a tiny love note next to the cup. A heart drawn, an “I love you” or “Good Morning, Lover,” or maybe an inside joke. Those go on the refrigerator or act as bookmark in my journal or current hardcover read.
We are in a new home with a new electric stove (not so awesome for moka pots, but it works just fine). I turn the dial to 6. I meditate until it percolates. I pour it into my little ceramic cup. I am averse to hot-hot coffee (or hot-hot temperature anything), so I meditate a little more, or write some, rock in the chair on the patio, and wait for it to cool.
In total, my moka pot makes six ounces, so I imbibe about two small ceramic cups-worth of coffee. I like — we both like now — a medium roast, except for Sundays when he makes a French press with a dark roast and we make crema and enjoy a cafe con leche, or breve, or whatever. Our Sunday routine.
If, for some reason, I am up and around before he is, I am now kind of lost in the kitchen at that time of day — or that is to say, the morning coffee kitchen routine is lost to me, because I am not the Maker of Coffee in the house. He is. It is his daily gift to me.
If I am lucky, there is excess ground coffee in a container, which I can use for both of us and make something that can mask the not-so-fresh grind, like a cappuccino or another round of café con leche. Otherwise, I have yet to brave the burr grinder and learn its magic ways. Even so, my husband seems to be content with whatever I make, his once-in-a-while coffee gift to him, with cream.
The practice of mindfulness has made its way into popular Western culture. The other day, I read a headline that injected worry into the practice of mindfulness, that it could create a scenario where we ignore our emotions and other things just by being present in the moment. Leave it to Westerners to fret about even more shit, including mindfulness.
It seemed a bummer to me, and missing the point: Being mindful in and present for whatever we do clears the path for the other stuff, allowing light to shine on the forest floor of our lives. Everything is brighter, receives light, can absorb the nutrients better. Then, the habit of mindfulness becomes a default practice in our lives. We slow down, being mindful in all — or most or more — moments. We no longer want to talk while we eat, or perhaps we do not listen to music while we work. Maybe we just sit in the moment and bask in silence, or observe the birds, or hold hands with a loved one. Mindfulness begets more mindfulness. Your heart swells, there is more joy in your life. One activity at a time.
And so, I am grateful for my Morning Barista. He is the love of my life, and I am his. I know that he is thinking of me always, not just while he is away, but also in the little daily things, like in a small cup of coffee that he prepares for me with love.
Such joy to be loved and to know it. Such abundance, in all the things. I breathe in, close my eyes, and say thank you.