Friday, 19 April 2013

Confessions of a Coffee-holic

My name is Monique Reymer and I’ve been a coffee-holic for most of my adult life.”

There. Now it’s out in the open.

For those of you who know me, this will come as no surprise, merely a confirmation of what you already suspected.

I don’t know if there is a cure. I’m not sure I want one. My new-ish coffee machine and I have an on-going relationship of mutual affection (Okay, its mainly one-sided- I adore it, I’m not sure it realises I exist), and it has ‘bought’ me many a friend, who, in our café deficient rural area, happily come to imbibe at my place. I’m sure it’s just the coffee they’re after. I usually just have two – or 3 – coffees before midday, and no obvious serious side effects to date. I blame (or credit) my Dutch heritage. The Dutch always have a ‘second’ everything – a ‘second cup,’ a ‘second drink’ and they even have a ‘second Christmas Day’!
A warm up exercise in the online writing course I have been doing was to ‘eat a piece of food and use it as a starter to write about’. I had my steaming, freshly brewed cup of coffee on the desk beside me, so it felt appropriate to use that as my subject. I had fun writing this and even more fun reading it to my friends one morning (over coffee, of course).

This got me thinking seriously about 'spoken poetry' or 'poetry slams' as it is called in the business. If you have never had the joy of experiencing this, check out ‘Sarah Kay’ as a good example. Her ‘if I should have a daughter’ was on a TED talk which I luuurved. Sarah Kay, TED talk: 'If I should have a daughter'  or this one with Katie Makkai - Pretty  I always did like public speaking (weird, I know. Most people hate it. I am a ‘closet exhibitionist’- lol. ) So I may be working more seriously on Spoken Poetry in future – watch this space- but for now, have a coffee as you read:

You can spend three hours a day playing the piano, practising and practising until every last note is perfect, the rhythm and cadence faultless, the nuance and emotion effortless. And then you play the performance piece, and it is done. If you don’t keep up the practice, it won’t stay perfect. You are only ever as good as your last performance. It’s not like a painting you can put on the wall, and say ‘see, look how good I once was’, even if you never paint again.
 Coffee is not like that. Coffee is like the piano. It doesn’t matter how many you have, if today’s is better or worse than yesterday’s. All that matters is the coffee you have right now.
 It starts with the aroma, long before the first drop is drunk. Scent wafts in the air, luring the senses of even the non-believers who stick to their herbal teas, teasing the nostrils and seducing the saliva glands. Then there is the ritual of the making – the whirr and hum of the grinder, the hiss and splutter of the milk frother, the gurgle and chug of the coffee maker, combining to make a symphony of impending caffeine.
The product itself is a sight to make many a barista swell with a sense of proud satisfaction. Soft milky whiteness, with an artful scattering of cinnamon dust on the snowy surface, hides the true content of the black, inky bitterness lurking beneath. 
 The cup, too, an important part in the illusion- sturdy, but beautiful; graceful, but functional; bright, but practical. The mere movement of lifting it to one’s lips, the aroma coming at full force towards the unsuspecting nose, the flavour ready to attack the innocent taste buds, are worthy the drama of a full length feature film.
Then, finally; The Tasting.   The foaminess of the milk, the smoothness of the blend, the gentle bitterness soothed by the hint of cinnamon, swirl around the mouth in a dizzying combination, rendering the brain defenceless as it is at once both drugged by the headiness of the brew, and then shocked, as if struck by a lightning bolt in the mouth. Alert now, the body admits defeat, as it succumbs to the giddying effects of a brew well made, well presented, and well imbibed.
The concerto is complete.
The audience rise to a standing ovation.
Today’s coffee was good.





  1. I am going to hold you to the promise of Public Poetry!!! BTW, I also love your coffee machine, but if you made me instant , I would still visit! After reading your story, perhaps you would like more "alone time" with coffee..!!! (fans self and goes get's a cup of tea)

  2. From Flora:

    Dear Monique, I'm so glad your coffee gives you such intense thrills! I prefer mine soft, mellow and comforting, just warm enough to soothe my throat and with a slight sweetness rather than bitterness. Perhaps our different tastes reflect the ominous generation gap? Perhaps you can eloquently describe your strange tastes for peppers? <3

  3. Dear Flora
    I may like mine bitter, strong, and intense,
    a surface of softness, a hint of spice for the sense
    While you like yours comforting, sweet, soft and mellow
    Pray tell, is it of coffee we speak, or our preference of fellow?

    As to peppers, now that is quite an alternate tale
    Than to merely describe our preference of male
    Maybe this is more a generational thing
    In that it better describes our relative offspring?

    While mine range from spicy to mild, not yet fully formed, still ‘on the twig’
    Yours are already well gone to seed, having grown quite big
    And produced crops of their own, of various hue
    And is it not so, yours tend to repeat on you?

    Love & awe