Coffee doesn’t just stain my blouse. It stains my soul.
Coffee addicts more than power. And the absolute best coffee corrupts so absolutely that it has been the reason I went to bed ecstatic at night so I could get up the next morning to a mind-blowing cup. The older I get the crazier I get and the more the premium fuel I load into my car so I can rush toward the highest octane cup for my body.
I travel to savor the ultimate cup.
How must I drink coffee?
I must drink it in my father’s cozy home in Chennai in a white stoneware mug that I bought for my mother over 30 years ago when I got my first job.She is now stuff of legend. And so too her coffee. I savor every old bubble and froth that is just so, exactly the way she made it since the day I found coffee. But with every sip, I will miss–and dismiss–her.
“Why must you drink it so hot?”
“You must be an ostrich?”
“Just like your dad.”
“He wants it just so. Won’t change his ways.”
“You will burn your throat lining.”
Dad's coffee doesn't foam up quite right. With every vanishing sip of the cup, my mother is a disappearing aroma. A Has-bean?
Then I must drink my coffee as an espresso, standing at a coffee bar at the Segafredo Zanetti in Italy. Here I will go to heaven (and back, alas) as boorish Baristas slide me an order of almond croissant–and a bill.
Oh, I must let my tongue loose over “degree coffee” in South India’s Kumbakonam. Here I must sip a filter coffee and dip into fluffy idlis served with coconut chutney.
And in Paris’ Rue Saint Dominique, I must drink “un Capuccino, madame, s’il-vous-plait, avec un croissant” while watching Scottie dogs walk owners who swish and perk like them, give or take a few degrees of snoot.
Finally, near home in California, I must seek my cup of nirvana at Cupertino’s Roasted Coffee Bean, punched up with a toasted and buttered sesame bagel.
And when I go this weekend to the new Café del Doge in Palo Alto, I wonder, will I discover the ghost of Cafe Verona?