Learning to make a coffee.

Drinking coffee is one of the habits I formed in the past 18 months. This is less so because I need to calm my nerves or stay awake. My primary motivator has been to learn and operate a manual coffeemaker in the kitchen at my workplace.

Every workday during the 10 minute morning break at 10 a.m. I take my cup, go to the coffee machine in the kitchen. I grind some aromatic fair trade beans into handle, let hot water flow through the crushed coffee powder and collect the decoction into the cup.

Then starts the critical part on which the whole coffee drinking experience depends, which is to froth the milk. Pour some milk into a steel jug. Immerse the steel tube of the espresso machine into the milk. Turn on the knob that dispenses the steam via the tube into the milk. The milk swirls nicely and heats up to the required temperature. Stop injecting steam when the level of the milk raises and is about to overflow the jug. Then just pour the frothy milk into the cup moving the jug up and down. The process is fairly simple, except when frothing process becomes cacophonous and scares the people around. The result could be a jug of yucky tasting burned milk.

It is this process of frothing milk that challenged me and took over an year of consistent practice to master. In the beginning I was terrible. I failed nearly everyday. The noise is unbearable. The coffee is potable but tasted terribly. I kept trying but one day someone at the kitchen table made a sarcastic comment which tempted me to give up. But the next day I appeared at the machine with my cup to retry. I did well. The streak improved and I eventually got better. I do ruin milk occasionally but now I am generally good. I can claim that I can make an awesome cup of coffee.

The takeaway from this learning experience is much more than a cup of java. In this process, I learned the importance of small but sustained practice to learn some damn thing. And how not to give undue importance to others opinions, bouquets or a brickbats. I do get thumbs up from people who occasionally notice how well the coffee is coming up but I just smile and move on.

That’s my coffee making (and thereby drinking) experience. I will continue to practice and hence, drink. But I am sure I am not going to be a coffee addict as my trigger and incentive for this habit are unusual.