Monday, March 05, 2007

On Espresso

Like other afflictions that one has to put up with in one's life, from sadness in the eyes to disappointments in the way we choose one unrequited love after another, a fascination for un caffe must be at the top of my morbid lists.

I once thought that I had a penchant for collecting stones and dying sunsets. I was even in love with different types of the sky at night, sometimes black, occasionally black blue, and so on. In these collages, I had space for existential and confessional poetry, rebellious hairstyles and unhappy love stories. I also thought that the best books and the most beautiful faces were the ones I had either seen or remotely touched.

My segue for afflictions is so difficult and tiresome. And then, inspite of all this sometimes tiring and sometimes rewarding affair with words, I fell in love again. Only this time it was with espresso.
I find a single shot of espresso is a complete poem. The brown foam, the froth that covers the coffee is the title of further delights. Then in one go, like an arrow or an unkept promise, the cup touches the lips and viola, the molten liquid goes down the throat and one feels revivified, as if all other things had existed in a haze. Now the senses clear up and reality seems sharper, more real.

The various cups that one romances with an espresso is important too, so too the locale. If it is foam swept Venice or one of the gelaterie's in Italy, the romance just fuels up. There, the mention of caffe is enough. Any other coinage would be iconoclastic. The smaller and more whiter the cup, the greater the delights. Now for instance, a double shot of espresso is a rarity on the continent. There, coffee is generally considered as an espresso. But in the old country, one must qualify. Here, it assumes a colossal task to specify what one means. I find a double shot of an espresso as an inability, on the part of the server and partaker both, to understand or acknowledge that apart from poetry, dark nights and espresso most other things are quite unimportant.

I find mutants like mocha, cappuchino and monsters like frappuchino as cultural monstrosities, as imperialism of a new kind.
Of course, one has to be aware of the taste of every other person. Yet, the huge mug's in cafes that people carry, with names like latte, americano and so on leaves me cold. How could a coffee be americano and then how could one drink that?

Coffee drinking is just like another of those melancholic arts. It grows on oneself, I mean the espresso love. To partake of one, especially without sugar, never sugar, is a trip to the dark side. Sugar spoils life as we know. Espresso's need to be drunk on their own, with one flourish to the dregs.

If bitterness is an acquired taste, then the love for espresso is one of those strange yet rewarding loves for bitterness, only that one finds that, in this deity, there are no promises. Just rewards.


* said...

oh this was a nice read. For me it is tea, but an occasional espresso is needed once in a while.

Alok said...

Wow, great post. Made me smile, even though I am a tea person myself. tea feels more classical, espresso is too contemporary and too "modern" :)

btw, I got the book of disquiet yesterday. i read a few pages. it is really beautiful.

Kubla Khan said...

coffee is perhaps older than tea, though these modern terms shadow the timelessness of the romance of actually brewing coffee.
the book of disquiet, yes.....feed on is a reward....for this thing called life.......

* said...

alok, you're gonna love this book. And I heard there is still yet so much of Pessoa's work that is not yet edited and/or translated.

Vidya Jayaraman said...

Delightful post.Yes,Espresso and only espresso without sugar has that potency.It is like an elixir, the first sip almost seethes through the frame and rejuvenates.Can't agree more on the size - the smallness of size and the sharpness of taste and whiteness of the cup - The talles and grandes of the world can seek refuge elsewhere when espresso reigns.

Anonymous said...

I am an espresso afficianado too, kubla: the deeper, darker, thicker, the better. Sebald whist drinking espresso; there is a combination. i like it in a little glass!beautiful, evocative, melancholic writing, as usual; a lovely blog overall Steve