02/30: Coffee, kopi, koffie.

I’ve worked in the service industry for over a decade now, but it wasn’t until last summer than I got a job at a coffee shop.

I’ve worked in almost every restaurant position from dishwasher, to line cook, to bartender, to ice cream cake maker, to wine-a-rita girl, the list goes on and on and on. Anyway, I’ve always wanted to work in a coffee shop, but it just never happened. Once things started to open up last summer, I finally got a job at a cafe across the city. I clocked in at 7am to begin grinding beans and serving pastries, and I was home by 3pm. This was one of the only jobs where I was required to be awake before the sun. During these early morning shifts, I discovered something really cool about my neighborhood at 6:30am. During the summer, you can catch the sun rising perfectly above the houses on my street. The early hours weren’t for me, but catching that Somerville Stonehenge on a regular basis was something I started to look forward to.

That coffee shop wasn’t open for indoor seating, and I never learned how to make any intricate latte art, but I’m thankful for finally being able to cross “work in a coffee shop” off my list of food service jobs. The window seat of your favorite coffee shop is one of the most inspirational seats you’ll ever find. Isn’t it cute how we all become the main character of a made-up movie in our heads during random moments like that? I swear its because the barista is always playing some overly sentimental, obscure folk album while we gaze out the window waiting for our coffees to cool. Aren’t humans cute? We all have moments like this, whether its sitting in the window seat on a rainy day, sitting on a breezy beach at sunset, or while enjoying the view in between Kendall and MGH during your daily commute. We should all romanticize our lives more often, whats the worst that will happen? You might start falling in love with the tedious, inconsequential moments throughout your day?

If we are being 100% honest, I have these moments almost daily when making my coffee at home. My coffee routine is excessive andI’ll never forget the look of disbelief/disgust my sister gave me when I handed her the hand grinder. One of my old jobs exclusively made pour over coffee and I was hooked immediately, not because I tasted a difference but because of the surprisingly meditative process of making a single cup of coffee. I definitely don’t miss being in the weeds while waiting for 7 different filters to slowly drip while impatient customers hovered over the counter staring at me, but luckily I don’t usually have seven snappy strangers brooding in my kitchen.

Do you ever think about the voyage of a single coffee bean? The journey from being a single seed in the soil of a country across the ocean to being ground up in your home kitchen is pretty remarkable. Some folks scoff at the idea of buying a $5 cup of coffee but wouldn’t blink an eye about spending $10 on a pint of beer brewed across town. To be clear, I’m not trying to disrespect craft breweries or undermine the process of brewing beer – its a whole separate process that is just as intricate. However, many of us would NEVER pay $10 on a cup of coffee, even though realistically, that price seems more fitting when you consider the labor, cost, and process of a single cup of coffee but thats a whole separate conversation for another time.

Anyway, my morning routine feels therapeutic, and its my way of preparing for the possibilities of a new day. I have a huge container of instant coffee, a bag of Trader Joe’s “exceptionally smooth cup of coffee” beans and then another bag from a local roaster in Ipswich, and a whole cast of different coffee brewing methods in my kitchen. I’ve tried several different brewing styles before committing to the pour over method, but honestly…. I probably wouldn’t recognize the difference between pour over and machine drip coffee in a blind test. For me, coffee is coffee. One of my favorite daily coffee routines was in a kitchen on the other side of the world. I boiled water in a frying pan and mixed instant coffee granules into the same fox mug I used this morning. I’d drink one cup while looking out a window that overlooked a construction zone and a pagoda nestled on top of a hill, and I drank my second cup on my 2 hour bus commute to work. It doesn’t matter where I am or what kind of coffee is being made because for me – I just enjoy the process.


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