Updated: Sep 13
The Kindness of Coffee
Early morning, I hear the kettle whistle in the dark. I hear the water glug as it fills up the press, forcing the grounds to float to the top. I hear the seven minutes of silence as it brews and I lie in bed. My eyes are closed, my mouth pasted shut. I'm not ready for words, but for the liquid of black, bitter beans to loosen my lips and coax me into consciousness, allowing my tongue to form its first, kind utterance,
"Good Morning. How did you sleep?"
Mid-day, my mother calls. "What are you up to?" she asks. "I'm close by and thought I'd stop over."
"I'll put the coffee on," I say.
I add an extra spoonful of grounds because she likes her coffee strong. Her week was hard, and she needs the ritual of coffee as respite. I fix a plate of cheese and fruit and present it as a gift, sweet strawberries, soft Gorgonzola, some toasted walnuts too. We sit outside among the Russian sage and the hydrangea that won't bloom. She buzzes around her feelings like the bees who never land on any one flower for long. She takes a slow sip in, like an act of meditation, and says something true.
Late evening, I brew an after-dinner pot. I add pumpkin and milk and whiskey and cinnamon. I'm the only one who drinks it and it tastes like a prize. Outside, my husband lights a fire and some candles. He drinks bourbon and beer and blares his carefully curated list of Saturday night jams. My son lugs his gymnastic mat up the hill to a flat spot in the yard. My daughter drops her pencil and her drawing pad and runs over to wrestle him to the ground. They laugh.
I sit on the porch and watch and let the swallow of coffee and liquor warm me. My husband wails to John Lennon’s, "Watching the Wheels." I sip in, let go, and hum along.
Boozy Pumpkin Spice Latte
Boozy Pumpkin Spice Latte
You can omit the alcohol and make a tasty, Starbucks-like pumpkin spice latte. If you are dairy-free, substitute milk and cream for a non-dairy milk of your choice. I think almond milk would be a great alternative.
Makes 2 (8-ounce) cups
4 ounces (¼ cup) heavy cream
4 ounces (¼ cup) whole milk
1TBSP pumpkin spice
1 TBSP vanilla extract
3 TBSP sugar
3 TBSP pumpkin puree
6 ounces (¾ cup) strong brewed coffee
1 ounce coffee liqueur - like Kahlúa
1 ounce cinnamon whiskey - like Fireball
1 recipe cinnamon whipped cream (recipe to follow)
Brew a strong cup of coffee.
Heat milk and cream but do not boil. You can do this in the microwave or the stovetop.
Add pumpkin spice and steep for ten minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and reheat milk mixture until hot. (If you tie the pumpkin spice inside a cheesecloth and make a bundle, you can steep that way and skip straining.)
Whisk in vanilla, sugar, and pumpkin puree.
Stir in coffee and alcohol. Divide pumpkin spice latte into 2 mugs.
Add a dollop of cinnamon whipped cream on top.
Cinnamon Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
3 TBSP powdered sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
In a mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the cream until stiff peaks form.
Whisk in powdered sugar and cinnamon until fully incorporated.
If someone has been kind to you and has made you coffee for years, this is such a sweet gift.
And, in case you want to make the ritual of coffee drinking even more special. Drink from these floating glass coffee mugs. I love mine.