As everyone probably knows well by now, I take coffee seriously.
My first cup of the day is usually poured and consumed when I am still half asleep – part of the morning routine.
On the days when I work in the mornings, it’s poured into my travel cup while I watch, bleary-eyed in the dim light from the coffeepot clock, for the bubbles to rise to the top, screwing on the lid while heading out the door, taking one or two sips before securing the handle over the adjustment lever of the passenger seat, because the travel mug doesn’t fit in the cup holder. On those days, I usually rely on the Marketplace Morning Report* to keep me awake on the drive to work – a twelve minute wait until I can join my tea- and hot chocolate-drinking workmates and we all consume our hot beverage of choice. Sometimes we even give the two or three children who are dropped off that early in the morning a mug of hot chocolate, too. Quiet togetherness with sweet friends and children in that early morning hour is the redeeming quality of a 5:20 alarm bell.
*I can’t help thinking that there must be something wrong with me if I listen to an economic news report to keep myself awake.
Then, on days such as this, when I work the afternoon hours, I have more time and am more awake when I make my way to the coffee pot. Grabbing one of my favorite mugs from the cupboard, always avoiding the one that I reserve for tea, I take time to appreciate the aroma as the coffee splashes into the cup, perhaps pausing by the window to watch a bird hopping in the yard before sitting to enjoy my coffee and make my sometimes written on paper to-do list for the day.
But it’s the afternoon coffee that I really want to talk about. The three o’clock slump that signals it’s time for my second, and last, cup of the day. While the morning drink comes from the drip-pot, the afternoon cup is usually a more formal affair – French Press, or sometimes a latte or cappuccino if I feel like making espresso.
But recently I found another rather amazing coffee drink that starts with – wait for it – instant coffee. I know, I didn’t believe it at first either – instant coffee coffee can’t be amazing, can it? But Tara’s description of her mother’s Indian cappuccino was so convincing… it practically begged me to try it, and soon.
The process of “beating” the coffee and sugar together is not for the faint of heart – to get it right, or at least what I assume is right based on her description and my own tries, you do have to beat it within an inch of it’s life. And then some. Your arm may get tired, but don’t worry, it’ll soon be revitalized along with the rest of you at the first sip of the frothy goodness.
You’ll see the original recipe makes two servings, but in case you have no one to share your coffee break with, or if, like me, your family decrees the drink “too strong and not sweet enough,” here’s what I do – fill the mug you plan on using one-quarter full of water, and then top it off, almost full, with milk. Pour that into a small saucepan to heat, frothing it with a whisk a time or two for even more bubbles, if you wish. (I wish.) 1 1/2 tsp. of instant coffee granules and 2 tsp. sugar go into a small glass dish, and just a few drops of water. The mixture should only be sandy, not wet. Beat, beat and beat some more with a spoon or small whisk until it is a light caramel color and all frothy and whipped. When the water/milk is hot, pour half of it over the coffee mixture and stir it all together to make sure all the granules are dissolved. Pour this into your mug, along with the remaining milk.
Enjoy, and marvel how something that, in the opinion of many, isn’t even worthy to be called coffee, with a bit of fussing over can suddenly become a star.