Tuesday morning was the start of a perfect day. With the morning off, sunny 75 degrees in a cloudless sky, I headed out to Fermilab for a spectacular bike, followed by a hard run.
And then it was time. Know what time it is????
I was already running late, and when you’re running late what’s another 10 minutes, and there is always time for coffee so I decided to go out a little out of my way for Dunkin’ Donuts.
It had been some time since my last coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. You see, lately, in the world of coffee, I’ve changed my ways.
I’ve been taking it black.
Black as in no fluff-fluff, froo-froo, fatty-fatty cream, milk, half-and-half, powdered creamer, splenda, nothing, nada, black as night, straight, up and down, no nonsense cup of coffee. It was a move even Chris called hard core.
I don’t know what possessed me. I just woke up one day and decided I was going black. At that point, my coffee addiction crossed the line from fluffy cream-filled happy coffee habit to straight up black and bottomless java junkie.
Since then, I’ve enjoyed tasting the true flavor of coffee. Though the fat in cream actually enhances the flavor, I wanted to keep it real, get back to the roots – drink it black, no frills, no gimmicks. Give the real flavor of coffee a fair chance.
Know what? I liked it.
But still, every once in awhile I like to put the fun and the fat back into coffee. So whenever I go out for coffee, I throw a splash of cream in my cup and watch the milky swirls swim in my cup with happy delight.
And that’s how I found myself at the Dunkin Donuts counter ordering a medium coconut with cream on Tuesday. I waited with leashed anticipation. Leashed because this was a store, I needed to exercise some restraint for my giddiness lest I find myself restraining ordered from the store for skipping around like a crazy woman shouting something about all of my wildest, most creamy caffeinated dreams coming true.
Standing behind the counter will all of this excitement bound up in me I may have even started to drool.
Come on, coconut, come on creamy goodness, medium-sized, 16 ounces of joy about to come my way……
“Medium coconut with skim milk,” said the woman behind the counter, pushing a cup my way.
My eyes bugged out. My head hurt. At that moment, the earth may have stopped. Time stood still and I felt like someone slapped me in the face. My ears burned, my eyes wanted to cry as the words skim milk hung heavy in the air.
Somewhere a coffee tree just died.
Oh no, no, no, no, no no no no no no no no. No. I did not, would not, will never, ever, ever, never ask for skim milk in my coffee. Whole milk? In desperate times. Powdered creamer – in a pinch. But when I go out for coffee, and ask for cream in my coffee, I want full-fledged fatty fatty four by four can’t fit through the kitchen door a moment on my lips a lifetime on my hips full flavored straight from the cow cream.
She looked at me and then looked at the cup.
“I swear I heard skim milk,” she said, with a quizzical look in her eyes.
Listen, sister, it’s not my problem if you’re hearing things today but let me remind you that no way in hell would I ever order my coffee with sissy skim milk so why don’t you correct your crazy-woman-heard-skim-milk-mistake and give me my coconut with cream – CREAMY CREAM CREAM – before I jump over this counter and pour the cup myself.
I didn’t say that. But I heard it in my head. Who’s the crazy one here?
She corrected herself, and gave me a cup of coconut with cream. Oh, and it was coconutty, and it was creamy.
I sat at my desk nursing it for the next two hours. Don’t ask me why or how, but sometimes you get so caught up in work that you don’t realize how little coffee you have consumed. Two hours into it - work and the coffee - I have to make it a point to get serious, get focused – and finish the cup of coffee.
While I was working to meet this very important deadline – finish your coffee NOW - my ex co-worker, recent workplace defector, in other words the face of freedom that fills me with raving jealously every time I see her because she made it out and I am still trapped here – well, anyways, she called.
I took her on as a consultant to help with an upcoming project and we were scheduled to work together late into the evening.
“I’m stopping at Dunkin’ Donuts,” she said.
I reported a funny coincidence that I was holding a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts in my hand. Proof that we were cosmically connected in a caffeinated way. Not only that, but we kind of look alike too. She asked if I wanted a fresh cup. It was tempting, but since this was already my second round of coffee for the day (early morning workouts require early morning coffee), I declined.
“I haven’t had coffee since early this morning,” she confessed.
For her, this was a big thing. This was the closet thing to crisis, sound the sirens, all bells and whistles going off at the same time. Simply put, her veins run with coffee. And if she doesn’t get her coffee fix every few hours, she gets edgy and neurotic. More so than usual.
She is the one woman that I know that obsesses over coffee more than I do. And I think about coffee a lot. One day, we were working at my house – I refer to that day as “the day _____drank 28 cups of coffee.” I think I made 2 – 3 pots, of which she mostly consumed. She was so jittery that I made her do laps around my kitchen. She skipped the whole way.
But I knew better than to let her into my workplace without coffee. And so, I put a sign on the door warning anyone else in my building to not let her enter unless she was holding a cup of coffee. I knew better.
She arrived a short while later, with coffee on hand, well on her way to a more caffeinated, complete version of herself.
Speaking of women and coffee, recently, I tried to get my coach on the wagon with coffee. Last week, she was feeling tired after being up all night with her daughter. And so I let her in on a little secret.
You know what will clear that right up?
She said she tried, oh she tried to like coffee but it just wasn’t happening.
“But coffee wants to be your friend,” I told her. It was true. I had talked with coffee earlier that morning.
She said something about the taste.
Please don’t say mean things about my friend coffee, I thought. It can’t help it if most people don’t understand its delicate needs for cold water, the proper grind setting, and a French press if you really want to get serious about flavor and fresh coffee taste. Coffee is a victim of our need for convenience, and quick and now. Coffee needs to be caressed. It needs to be stewed. Coffee takes time.
I suggested one of my sweet and sticky favorites – Toffee Nut Americano with 3 splenda and a splash of cream. I don’t care if splenda isn’t really sugar, I don’t care is cream is clogging my arteries, I don’t care if I shouldn’t have spent 3 bucks on the cup of coffee in the first place. It tastes good dammit. And, besides, something one day has to kill me – whether it is coffee, or cream, or fake sugars, or buying into the massive evil marketing empire of the starbuck's experience economy. I have no problem with selling my soul or my body or arteries to the devil for coffee. I mean, I know hell is hot but I like my coffee really, really extra hot so I think I'll get by.
These are my coffee thoughts, and this is my coffee talk. I wonder sometimes if I could think this much without coffee, if these thoughts would keep running quickly, incessantly through my mind. Because really that’s how it feels. And that's a good thing because it helps me get a lot done and it makes the intolerable – people, work, household chores, sometimes husband (just kidding – lub lub) – that much more tolerable.
If coffee was crack, I’d be screwed.
One thing is certain, it has taken me more than enough time to finish today’s cup of coffee – cream and all. But it was worth it, and it was the perfect cup of coffee for what really was a perfect day (if you subtract the 8 ½ hours at work).
Empty cup, on my desk, and I am sad. I once worked with a woman who had a forlorn look on her face, to which I asked “what ever is wrong?” And she replied with the honesty that only a woman that had once admitted to drinking two pots of coffee could do – “my mocha is all gone, and now I am sad.” And that is the way it should be. Here I sit, sad that today’s coffee is gone, the cup no longer full of life, and my body slowly building the craving until the next day.
But the good news is that tomorrow is another day, another cup. Well, another 3 cups. But who’s counting?