Here in the US, a cup of coffee is often an afterthought, something we order to accompany something else. “I’ll have a blueberry muffin and a large coffee with two creams.” “I’d like a piece of your apple pie and a cup of decaf.” And with the help of Starbucks’ marketing, cups of coffee have even been ushered into the realm of modern accessory (still an accompaniment). “Sunglasses…check. iPhone…check. White, paper cup with cardboard sleeve…check.”
Do you doubt me?
How else can we explain the popularity of “coffee drinks,” many of which are ten percent coffee and ninety percent syrupy, creamy goodness? Those, dear readers, are for the consumer who likes the idea of coffee more than the coffee itself.
In Rome, however, a “cup of coffee” – more specifically espresso or cappuccino – is both an event and the star attraction. Every café I visited had an espresso bar, appointed with stools and brass foot rails. I saw no drive-thru service options, and I saw no paper cups in the hands of passers by. Romans take time for a leisurely cup. They sit, they sip, and they talk.
(I’d also like to add that their servings were mostly very small and very dark. No fluff there, honey!)
Here’s a thought…
How often do we take time out of our day for a cup of anything? Time and out are the operative words in that question. Time spent doing nothing but enjoying a cup of coffee or tea or even ice water? Time spent with our own thoughts, or time spent enjoying someone else’s company? So caught up are we in the fashion of multi-tasking, that I suspect most of us are mindlessly sipping while checking our e-mails or texting or driving or watching television. Some of you, perhaps, are sipping while reading this blog.
That is certainly our way in the Holland house. Regardless of the beverage, multi-tasking supersedes human-to-human interaction. The television is almost always on. There are three people, three laptops, three cell phones. It should go without saying, then, that my favorite times of the day are school mornings, dinnertime, and my son’s bedtime.
Mornings, because my son’s face is the first face I see (well, the second actually, since Simon’s is the first…met about two inches from my nose.) Then while my son showers, Simon and I go outside for some early-morning fetch beneath the stars…and yes, I always sip my morning cup.
Bedtime is when I get to enjoy some surprisingly quality moments with my son. (Sometimes I think he’s more talkative at bedtime to prolong the inevitable, but I’m not complaining.)
Dinnertime, unfortunately, grows increasingly hit-or-miss as his activity schedule becomes more complex, and as our house increasingly becomes the neighborhood hangout for his friends (I’ve finally convinced his father that this is a good thing).
With all this multi-tasking and digital media that’s supposed to help mankind streamline lives, why are we not discovering more time for each other? Why do we seem to grow more and more disconnected from one another?
Here’s my challenge to you.
Pour yourself a cup of coffee, or a cold beer if that’s your preference, and turn off the television. Close your laptop and silence your phone. Then…spend however long it takes you to SIP your beverage enjoying the moment. Enjoying someone’s company? Well that’s an added bonus.