I drink one cup of coffee a day and it is a ritual. I love coffee. I love the nutty, earthy, perfume of it. I love a well-made latte, cortado or flat white, but I don’t know how the roast effects the levels of acidity or the flavour profile of the bean variety. It’s on my ‘after lockdown’ list of things to do. Right now, I just know what I like.
During lockdown, I’ve been getting up at 7.30am. Usually the street is filled with the early morning sounds of my neighbours starting up their cars for the morning commute, teenage students, sleepily making their way to the secondary school around the corner, harried mums trying to get younger kids out of the house before they become late. Since lockdown, every day is the silence of Sunday morning. It’s not surprising that I have to check my phone for the day and date, just to make sure. My morning coffee has become a ritual and it is the best part of the day.
In the morning quiet, the ritual begins. I fill the kettle. While it boils, I drop two spoonfuls of ground Arabica into the pot. The heady aroma fills the air and already I feel a little bit more awake. Sometimes I mix it up. A half teaspoon of cinnamon, a few cardamom pods, or a splash of rose water added to the pot along with the coffee. Just before the kettle comes to a boil, I turn it off and pour the steaming water into the pot, watching the bubbles form and then settle as a little crema forms. I look out the window, checking how much cloud cover there is and whether the clouds are fluffy white clouds that say my daily walk will be sunlit and meandering, or whether they are the colours of slate, signalling that it might be more functional than pleasurable.
I sit at the dining table with a freshly poured cup and take out my writing pad. Natalie Goldber, in her book, Writing Down the Bones, talks of buying cheap writing pads so that she didn’t feel intimidated by the blank page. I took this advice to heart because the blank page of a beautiful notebook is my nemesis. I buy inexpensive A4, mostly lined pads that have soft covers and by the time I am a third of the way through them, they have become tatty at the edges and the pages are loose. But it doesn’t matter. I am not precious about the contents.
I have been writing ‘morning pages’ for a long time. Three pages of whatever falls out of my head while I sip. If I miss a day, something feels out of whack. This ritual is a meditation. I connect with myself, tapping into thoughts and feelings I am sometimes unaware that I have.
During lockdown, it has become even more important. It is a touchstone. Right now, this morning, everything is OK.
Take five cardamom pods and remove the outer shell. Grind in a mortar and pestle or bash with something heavy to release the flavour and add to the pot with the coffee. Brew as normal. You can experiment with the quantity of cardamom to adjust to your palate. I love the flavour and am a little heavy handed.