You’ve Got To Love That Joe
As the birds begin to chirp, and the dawn breaks open, Luciana is waking up every morning and turning towards one of her great loves. What a wonderful way to live your life, I thought when she described her love to me. Sometimes known to others as Joe—for reasons unknown. Luciana’s love is always black. Unlike some men named Joe, Luciana’s love of coffee always reciprocates. Whether it’s acting as an escape from her surroundings, or as the path towards her feelings, or even that instant replay button when she needs to hear: “Courage, my love!” Coffee is always there for her.
That first kiss, or shall we say sip, took place while still a child in Romania during one of her parents friend’s New Year’s Eve celebrations. The décor was fashionable 60’s mod and after the champagne been drunk, espressos were served, and Luciana got to be like the rest of the coffee-drinking adults. The experience? She hated it. “Bitter and over-sweetened,” she remembers the taste. But like many of us, Love does not always grow the first time around.
By 8, Luciana was making coffee for her parents by herself. But this wasn’t the automatic brew us North Americans would recognize. Influenced heavily by their Turkish neighbours (just across the Black sea), Romanians drank coffee the Turkish way; made in a long-handled spouted pot. Traditionally, one tablespoon of water mixed with extremely fine ground coffee beans (about the consistency of cornstarch). The rumour is that the coffee used to be slowly heated over hot sand, but thanks to modernity, the stove set on low will now do. Although isn’t it a romantic thought?
So in love with Turkish coffee, Luciana buys a unique Mocha-Java blend at a specialty supermarket, and keeps the beans in a pewter jar given to her by her late mother-in-law. Once the coffee is brewed—slowly to perfection resulting in light brown foam on the top—Luciana selects one of her cups based on her mood and the occasion, and retires to her little coffee oasis in the living room. Luciana describes, “a small armchair next to a small tray table, and a bookshelf with my favourite books, facing the bay window with the view of the trees, squirrels, birds, and neighbours walking their dogs and babies.”
Coffee, Luciana believes, has become a symbol for life: black, bitter, addictive, good, perfect or miserable. Coffee can be all of these things—as can life. Growing up, her parents had an unhappy marriage, but like many parents they chose to bear it for the sake of their children. But the one ritual her parents chose to do daily together, was to sit in their beds and drink their coffee in the morning. Through coffee, they kept a bridge open and a vision of love for their children.
As T.S. Eliot says in the Love Song for J. Alfred Prufrock – “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.”