Piping hot coffee has never passed through my lips.
No. Not once. Not even in college.
Remarkable, I know.
The burnt smell pinched my nostrils and steam threatened to scald my tongue. I hate that. Neither the manufactured soul of Starbucks or the chaotic art and people of the hipster coffee houses offer a respite to me. One is cleverly designed and one throws anything on the walls to see if it will stick. Both are thoughtless in their offerings for a visual person who needs a space for her eyes and heart to rest.
Besides, I am more of a diner gal.
People that go to diners don’t seem to be searching for meaning or plugging into work. Slipping into a booth at a diner is intentional and intimate. No one is just passing time. Lingering, yes. Frittering away a morning or afternoon, no. American culinary basics served up surrounded by the every day man. No one judges you at a diner. It is communal. It has a soul.
But I digress…back to coffee.
Italy was my first time.
I broke a decades-long distaste for coffee. Guests stood shoulder to shoulder against the cool metal counter of Sant’Eustachio. Here, seasoned male baristas dressed in vests and bowties made a career out of perfect preparation and service. The feeling flowing from the open doorway was imperturbable despite the mist of a January night in Roma. Sant’Eustachio il Caffe, has a soul born of religion, history, and family woven together. The aloof service, the regulars slightly annoyed with any tourist marvel, the tight quarters…it felt like a set on the back lot of Warner Bros.
One espresso. One latte.
Outside, the cafe tables perspired from the fog leaving empty seats and the Sant’Eustachio appearing desolate. But inside…the heft of ceramic coffee mugs with saucers and the ting of stainless steel spoons stirring brought levity. This was not “throw away” or recyclable wrapped in a cardboard holder. I knew this was how you create a life well lived.
The first sip was utterly divine. I set the spoon down, walked outside and lifted the camera. I wanted to remember the feeling of modern mixed with old. Not just the perfect expresso or latte but the wholeness of the experience. The expectation that life is just about to step into the picture.
Weddings are the same, you know. The dress, flowers, linens, music…they are the expectation that love is just about to step in the picture.
When it does, I am always waiting…lifting my camera.
It is a life well lived.
Sant’Eustachio il Caffe – Roma, Italy