Teaching is not for the faint of heart. Each day requires a serious amount of energy and drive. I remember coming home after my first day of teaching. I stumbled through the door and slumped down on the couch. I didn’t fall asleep – rather, I fell into a deep trance. When I woke up later that evening, I tried to remember who I was and where I was. Did I get hit by an 18-wheeler or something? Overtime, your stamina increases, and you get used to the hustle and bustle of the day. Teaching can be draining, but it’s easily worth it.
It should be no wonder then, that teachers consume vast amounts of coffee. Forget gathering around the water-cooler, teachers surround the coffeemaker like seagulls flock to a dropped French fry. Coffee gives teachers that extra needed energy. Sir James Mackintosh once said “The powers of a man's mind are directly proportioned to the quantity of coffee he drinks.” Too true.
As you can probably deduce, I am a coffee drinker. I don’t just drink coffee – I love coffee and everything about it.
This past Christmas, I bought a book containing coffee recipes. The recipes and the pictures in this book are amazing. I selected a recipe for a white mocha and got busy. I pulled out my espresso maker, filled the bottom chamber with milk, added the grinds, and put it on the stove. As the mocha was brewing, I imagined how amazing it would taste, and how I would never feel the need to go to Starbucks again. I had visions of creating all sorts of wonderful caffeinated concoctions.
A hiss of steam signalled that the white mocha was finally finished. I took out my best cup and saucer and brought it over to the espresso maker. I poured the white velvety liquid into the cup. It looked delicious. The smell, I noted, was a little on the overpowering side.
I brought the cup and saucer into my study where I had been marking. This white mocha was just the ticket to help me through this stack of marking!
In my head, a choir of sopranos was ready to sing a chorus of celebration as I brought the cup to my mouth. I took a sip. Instead of the joyful strains of sopranos, the sound of a deflating balloon filled my brain. This stuff was disgusting! I had been like Icarus and flew too close to the sun. My dreams were dashed, and I returned to earth – humbled.
Gingerly, I took another sip, hoping that it wasn’t as bad as I had first thought. Nope – it was still vile. This mocha was strong – it could not doubt be used to double as some kind of industrial cleaner. I looked at my favourite cup with sudden alarm as I wondered if this liquid would corrode through the bottom of the cup. I carefully brought it over to the sink – careful not to slosh any mocha on exposed skin – and dumped it down the drain. Since the mocha probably had the same properties as ‘drano’ I recognized that at least I would have a cleared drain out of the deal.
The defeat was stinging and left me with a bitter taste in my mouth (hypothetically and literally!). Would I let this coffee recipe book and my espresso maker defeat me or would I take inspiration from my waffle iron struggle (see blog entitled ‘The Waffle Iron’) and overcome this small kitchen appliance?
I let it defeat me – for a while anyway. The espresso maker and the coffee recipe book taunted me. Since I consider myself a coffee connoisseur, I knew that I would half to have another go at the espresso maker.
It was go time. I decided I should probably start simple instead of trying the fancy white mocha again – I prepared for a cup of espresso coffee. Reverse Osmosis water, Italian finely ground espresso and the perfect stovetop temperature – the ideal conditions.
After a few minutes, the coffee began to brew. Instead of a pungent smell, a strong and beautiful aroma wafted into the kitchen. Courtney, whose favourite hot beverage is “banana-strawberry-passionfruit-pineapple-tazo-green-potpurri-tea”, scrunched her nose in disgust at this sweet and satisfying smell. “What is that smell?” she asked. “That is the smell of victory!” I replied. She gave me a confused look and left the kitchen.
The espresso was finally finished and I poured it into my favourite cup and saucer (which thankfully did not sustain any damage from the white mocha – aka – drano). I brought it to my lips – the choir of sopranos began an exalted chorus – the beautiful brown liquid passed my lips – and – burnt my tongue. My taste buds, which had just recovered from the flaming hot waffles from a few weeks before (again – see “The Waffle Iron”), were singed again.
Despite this slight setback and after letting the espresso cool down a little, I took another sip. It was delectable! Success had never tasted so good.