Coffee and Tea

I was once a fanatical coffee drinker.  I worked in a cafe in Portland, Oregon, and we were allowed whatever coffee drinks we wanted.  I was a barista, so this was in part to get me to practice making and to taste a variety of choices.  That I did.  I would walk down from Northeast Salmon Street a couple of blocks to the Cup and Saucer, hang my jacket, wash my hands, and make something funky.

Maybe I would make something like a double tall hazelnut orange skim latte.  Or a single cappuccino with a blast of almond syrup.  Sometimes I would just have an espresso shot but I preferred the foamed milk.  Perfecting that was my raison d’etre while I worked the coffee bar.  I would often allow myself multiple drinks during my eight-hour shift.

I would get out in the afternoon and would meet some of the friends with whom I lived.  We would walk across the street and sit down to talk and drink coffee.  I had to pay for this so I usually just drank the regular stuff.  It was good coffee.  We would debate or talk philosophy and listen to KMHD (“all jazz, all the time”) for a couple of hours, all the while sipping the bean.

By the time I got married I still drank coffee on occasion but had overcome my seven cups a day phase.  We drank tea.  We drank tea when we went backpacking.  We drank tea when we went for a long ski.  We drank tea after dinner.  We had a whole kitchen drawer devoted to tea–Earl Gray, Lemon Zinger, even Salada for guests who preferred the mainstream stuff.

At one point I bought a coffee maker, one of those cheap ones with the glass carafe on a burner.  I would make coffee once in a while for myself.  My wife found it nasty so I tried to clean it up right away and most of the time only drank it when she wasn’t around.  Things have changed.

When it came time to replace the glass carafe the second time I spent the big bucks and got a maker with an insulated carafe.  It makes far better coffee.  Somewhere along the way my spouse started drinking Starbucks frozen coffee drinks.  Those were the gateway drugs.  Now she comes downstairs before I do to make the coffee.   She does not find it to be nasty anymore.

Lately, however, I have turned to tea again.  It feels like revisiting a friend I haven’t spent time with in a while.  After the children are asleep and the house is finally quiet, I can sit and read or write or watch some weird film and sip tea.  With just a dash of cream and solid dose of honey, it offers the perfect evening companion.

i still drink coffee in the morning.  Tomorrow is Saturday and I look forward to taking the time to steam up some espresso and to foam some milk and to make something fancy right in my kitchen.  But it will be a chilly day tomorrow.  At some point in the afternoon I will probably brew up some tea.  It will warm me, and I will look out at the fading colors of fall and I will feel just about right.

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