Well, I’ve been home from my Spring Coffee Tour for a little over a week now. And I have to say, I’m already wishing I could get back out on the road again.
A few days ago, I thought I would try to recreate the adventure of looking for New Coffee Places and went to Nordaggio’s in South Tulsa. I hadn’t been there in years, and I thought I should start trying out coffee in my own town if I can’t get out on the road.
It was a rainy Saturday morning, and I went by myself and ordered a latte. Based on the look I got when I asked how many ounces their lattes were, I guess they thought I was either ignorant or a noob. Or probably both. But if there’s one thing I learned, it’s find out the size of the drinks before you order, because there’s more variation out there than you’d think (or than there should be).
I sat with my latte and watched the rain outside and the 3 other people in the shop. I realized early on I had chosen a seat too close to the stereo speakers but I was too lazy to move.
As I nursed my drink (and I will say, it was the most unusual latte I’ve had in recent memory… They roast their own beans and I don’t know what they DO to them exactly – there was no “nuttiness” in the flavor but there was instead a whole lot of caramel flavor. It was a little disconcerting… but not bad…), I thought about my trip some more. I realized that most of the coffee I drank on the trip, I had by myself. I think only twice did I have a friend with me. And I also realized – that I enjoyed being alone.
I could always go talk to the barista or the owner or the roaster and ask questions and say hi, and learn from them. I love watching the look on someone’s face when they talk about something they’re passionate about – and I saw that a lot. So I could always find people to talk to, but when it came down to the act of experiencing the atmosphere and the sights and sounds and using all the senses involved in the experience of drinking a coffee – I experienced all that by myself.
There are two things I love about coffee besides the taste – the aspect of ritual and the aspect of social interaction. I enjoy the ritual of making coffee at home. And I enjoy the civility that comes with sitting down with someone and having a conversation over a great espresso drink. But on the trip, having a latte by myself became a new sort of ritual, and a new way of relating to the whole experience. I was fully in the Present Moment. And it was great. With no conversation as distraction, I could pay more attention to everything around me and I was able to notice more how the environment contributes to the level of enjoyment of the beverage. Because it’s true – the circumstances under which you drink coffee will contribute to your impression of the drink itself.
I hope all this makes sense. Because I’m not sure I’m managing to explain what I’m thinking very well.
The short version is: the trip was great because it was the perfect combination of spending time with other people and spending time alone. And being in complete control of how I spent my time was priceless.
So now that I’m home, with dishes to wash and bills to pay, and some gardening to do and unfortunately a termite inspection on the agenda, I find myself wishing for another Coffee Adventure. I’d love to pick a city and go there and order a bunch of lattes and meet new people and learn more about coffee. I guess I’ll start saving for the next Coffee Tour.