My favourite coffee mug still sits in a place of honour on my shelf.
It’s cracked, full of brown stains that will no longer surrender to the dishcloth, chipped along the edges and bears witness to its final death knell: the long crack from bottom to top that caused the terminal leakage of its precious fluids.
Often, in its later years, I lovingly hand washed it, not trusting the evil elves in the dishwasher to go gently.
I know I am not alone in my fervour for the perfect mug. I see kindred spirits everywhere, as they approach the counter, choosing just the right blend of beans, wondering if the coffee warrants a place of honour in the chalice.
If they have bravely exposed their mug to the dangers of the outside world, they lovingly fill and prepare the coffee to the exact specifications, stirring clockwise three times, tap twice, then two stirs counterclockwise.
And if you can’t find your favourite one, or it is in the sink, there is a distinct and measured ranking to follow it, soldiers lined up to do their duty of defending your right to enjoy your coffee.
And you know it’s time to do the dishes when you are drinking from the officer cadets of the coffee mug army (those of you who were in the military would understand that the officer cadet is considered the lowest form of life … for the rest of you, let this running analogy end with: potato peelers).
This ritual cannot be rushed for these people. The best taste the mug will yield is enjoyed slowly, in a safe and comfortable environment. Is there anything better than enjoying a morning walk around the yard? … with the steam rising from your trusted friend? … as you sip each wonderful sip, your spirits rise and you prepare yourself for the onslaught of the day.
Or you sit and ponder the winter cold through the frosted edges of your window panes, on a weekend morning, knowing that the housecleaning, the shopping, the homework can all wait a moment, while you and your partner (who never gets their hands on your mug, fearing the wrath that would ensue!) read a paper, talk about the week or just sit and be peaceful in each others company.
My mug bears witness to all my morning muses: how I could do better, be better, treat people better and doesn’t judge me for my peccadilloes. It goes so much further than a caffeine delivery device. It is an integral part of my daily ritual.
Bad habits seem to be easier to adopt than good ones, that’s a crazy fact of human nature. I forget about making time for myself, in fostering and protecting my right to time for self care. I rush around, grab coffee in a plastic or paper mug for that fix to get the energy up to get everything done for everyone else.
I feel guilty for using a paper cup, knowing that I am only adding to the shocking amount of waste cups I see in the can outside the café. I know I can’t use the plastic mugs anymore, now that we know that toxins are leached out into my hot drink. I might find a steel mug that will not hurt me, but it will make everything taste a little cold and metallic (I just know it).
And the whole time, I feel a void in my ritual. My mug is patiently waiting at home and makes me think that I need to spend more time with it … at home … relaxing … making peace with the past and plans for the future.
Can I find a way to take that ritual into my day, my mug as a visual reminder of the healthy habits that taking a coffee break should be? Or should I enjoy the ritual at home in my warm kitchen, cats at my feet, hands wrapped around my new favourite mug and coffee made just for me?
Zola Doré is the owner/roaster of Midnight Sun Coffee Roasters in Whitehorse. Comments and questions about coffee are welcome. Or you and your friends can join her in a coffee-tasting session. Find out more at www.yukoncoffee.com.