I’ve never been a coffee drinker but I love coffee culture. I love a cafe with acoustic folk music and people working on laptops or reading books of poetry. I love the smell of coffee and watching baristas create foam art on lattes and I like those little posters that tell me how many parts coffee, milk, and flavoring make up each of the fancy coffee words.
But the thing I like the most is that moment over a kitchen table when someone takes a carton of milk or creamer from the fridge and drizzles it into the waiting coffee mug. I am perpetually mesmerized by the way it splashes and funnels and lightens the dark beverage. It feels like magic.
Given this, anytime I watch someone prepare their morning mug, I wait expectantly for this step. And more often than not, I find myself shrieking when they pour it in too fast and don’t stop to play with the art of the color changing magic. What is, for coffee drinkers, a very routine part of the morning, is for me an opportunity to be delighted.
One morning, I watched my partner in this routine and, of course, said something when the oat milk was poured in too quickly. “That’s the best part!!” I whined. “That’s the thing about you coffee drinkers,” I joked, “you always rush through the good part.”
A few mornings later, I was making an earl grey tea. When fully brewed, it’s almost as dark as black coffee. I grabbed the same carton of oat milk, splashed it into my tea, and the realization hit me like a brick. Oh no. That’s the thing about us tea drinkers.
To me, coffee is novel and exciting. I revel in being adjacent. To me, tea is routine and a staple of each morning, afternoon, and evening. Of course, I wasn’t able to see “the good part” of my routine.
I’ve had this idea in the blog queue for months. Originally, I wanted to keep it simple with some moral of “don’t judge the coffee drinkers for doing what you do with your tea” and I wanted to tie it up in a neat little bow where the action of the story all began before the drink was consumed. But as I began writing, a mug of matcha next to my computer, I realized maybe the good stuff is beyond a splash of milk.
Maybe the good stuff is when you drink coffee and tea and watch the morning news with your family. Maybe the good stuff is a full thermos, a walk to the park, and moments of quiet reflection before the noise of the day has settled in. Maybe it’s reading a book between sips. Maybe it’s just sitting across from someone you love, fingers wrapped around a warm ceramic mug, whispering conversations before the sun has risen.
Maybe it’s less about the 15 seconds it takes for the milk to swirl into the coffee and more about the 15 minutes that come after. Maybe it’s actually about taking the time to be where you are. To be still. To savor every sip.