#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 23

#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 23

Day 23

‘How many spoons of coffee should I use for this one?’

‘Three,’ my partner replies from the bedroom.

‘Are you sure? It’s not the normal one.’

She comes down the stairs to look at the packet of coffee I’m holding. I purchased two new coffees yesterday, bringing our total to four.

‘Yes, try three,’ she answers. ‘Heaped spoons please,’ she adds as an afterthought.

I obey, carefully dropping the ground coffee in the Aeropress. We had to look up how to use it a couple of days ago. It has been sitting unloved for months as we’ve been using the cafetière a lot more. At least my partner has. Coffee has never been the main hot drink in my life. It is reserved for days out, cafés often incapable of providing a descent cup of tea, and Wednesday mornings at work. The computer turned on, I would dip just the right amount of cheap coffee granules in a mug, pour a little water over it while another mug of milk would warm in the microwave. The two would be combined and brought back to my desk, the rich creamy liquid comforting in the second half of the week.

Since lockdown though I have been drinking many a cup of coffee. I don’t need the caffeine, my days too slow and gentle for that. But then coffee has rarely been about caffeine for me. I began to drink it as a young adult in France. Sweetened with milk and sugar, I would stay with my parents and grand parents at the Sunday lunch table. An empty tart dish on the table, crumbs all over our plates, and stained wine glasses by our side, we’d sip at the hot beverage silently. An hour or two later we would be gone, my grand parents waving from the entrance of their drive as we all disappeared around the bend of the road.

Later, Starbucks and Nero cafés in London became firm favourites as I walked all over the city with a friend. We explored London for hours on end, resting our tired legs in cafés and museums. A warm mug of sugary flavoured coffee in our hands, we discussed our projects. The novel I have yet to write, my friend role playing games, and whatever else we were both working on.

As I pushed my body to lose weight, my coffees became darker and more bitter. I came to appreciate the variety of taste found in them but never bothered preparing my own. At home and at work, tea still reigned.

My first outing with my partner was in a café, the first of many. She taught me about coffee but I refrained from making it. She likes her coffee just right and I have no clue how to make different ones. I order them from a counter and they come already brewed. We followed this pattern for a long time, me peculiar about my cups of tea, her about her cups of coffee.

My partner soon found her favourite cafés in Bristol when we moved in. There is an abundance of them with boards growing overly complicated that send my head spinning. I just want a coffee, not a dissertation on origins, flavours I can never taste, and brewing techniques I’ll never understand.

Cafés are now closed and the rhythm of life has changed. We have enough teas to last us a while, we always do, but now there is coffee too. In the supermarket yesterday I looked at the choice of coffee and grew very confused. Names of beans and places merged into a blurry map I couldn’t understand. Behind me, teas were decimated, the colour of packets known, their map understood in flavours and memories. I grabbed two packets from different regions of the world hoped for the best.

I take the lead from my partner still but coffees are becoming less foreign. I have no desire to learn about them, not doubt that I will stop drinking as much when life returns to a standard rhythm. But for now, I am drinking coffee. The dark bold flavours, the names on the packets, and the memories sending me travelling.

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