Coffee has become quite symbolic to me over the past year; the picture and fragrance of productivity. The smell permeates almost every office space I’ve entered recently. Even in my workplace, casual glances over my coworkers’ desks reveal proprietary mugs with telling stains. And for the more serious drinkers, there’s a mini coffee pot, either full of stale or fresh coffee, standing to the right of their desk.
There are two close colleagues in particular who share a ritual of placing a mug of hot, fresh coffee on the other’s desk – it all depends on who gets into the office first. I find the gesture quite endearing and it would’ve been nice if I shared that sort of working relationship with a coworker. Arriving at my desk to find warm coffee waiting for me, starting my day with the required caffeine boost. But I’m not really a fan of coffee.
My home country produces some of the best-known coffee and there was a time I loved fixing myself a glass, iced and flavored with Bailey’s (I often got a headache from this, but it was worth it to me then). I’d developed a taste for Nescafe’s French vanilla instant coffee, but the aftertaste was always too sweet. Saccharine. As if my entire throat and stomach had been soaked in sugar. And at that time, the smell of coffee was very nauseating to me.
In spite of how I felt about coffee though, I often frequented the local café by my community college. That’s how the smell grew on me and I’d buy a mochaccino each time I went, until it became my usual drink.
I love the atmosphere inside cafés. It’s like being in a library, without the oppressive edge that you shouldn’t make even a pin drop. The relaxing calm; the soft, occasional whir and hum of machines making drinks; murmured conversation; the scratch of ballpoint pens against paper and the focused rhythm of fingers tapping away at a laptop keyboard. It’s a different sort of freeing harmony that can only be found there. And it was always the perfect place for me to write.
Some of my ideas came from being inside a café and though I don’t visit cafes as much anymore since I migrated, I’ll go on occasion alone or with a coworker. There’s a Starbucks on almost every block. The convenience stores wedged between buildings always let out strong breaths of coffee in the morning when the glass doors slide open. I smell it everywhere I go and it’s always the business folk clutching a paper cup as they scurry the pavement to work.
My new drink of choice is the caramel macchiato – I take it hot since I realized I don’t have to stick to the routine of buying iced beverages. I used to think coffee was the only drink Starbucks served hot without any sort of real variations. Even though I know that now, I still go for the caramel macchiato. Sometimes I’ll try out the seasonal drinks, but as a general rule, I’m the stick-to-what-you-know-and-like type of person.
As for me, when I’m at work, my hot beverage of choice is a good old cup of Lipton with some tea biscuits on hand for dipping.