Welcome to The Epic! I am launching this blog as a manifesto for and a guide to living well. The title and motto of the blog are taken from the Epicureans, at least some of whom believed in the notion that not one minute of the future was guaranteed to them and that as a result they had the duty to live life to its fullest every moment.

I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Epic Fifteen Minute Vacations: A Perfect Cup For Coffee

Way down among Brazilians
Coffee beans grow by the billions
And they always have an extra cup to fill
They got an awful lot of coffee in Brazil.

-The Coffee Bean Song

I admit it. It took me some time to fall in love with coffee. Not in the chemistry based, addictive way of young love. Rather, in the deliberative fashion of those who have circled the issue awhile and come rationally and maturely to the conclusion. Then lose their minds.

I rarely drank coffee in college or law school. Shocking as this may seem to some in a day when all college students seem to have a grande latte clutched in each hand. When I started working, having a cup of coffee in the morning became ritualistic. Eventually, however I came under the influence of a coworker who loved her coffee. And all was made clear to me. True to my gourmand nature, I like almost all sorts of coffee I have tried since. Chicory blended from New Orleans. Turkish. Vietnamese. James Bond's Blue Mountain from Jamaica. Sumatran. Arabica. Espresso. When I found myself pondering the purchase of a French Press I knew the Rubicon had been crossed.

Perhaps I should have foreseen my ultimate fate. One night at law school. In the talent show. I was invited to be part of what was touted (by its organizer and front man) as the greatest vocal act ever put together. A stage presence to make the audience forget all the great male groups that came before. Even the Spinners. We called ourselves "Freedi and the Beans". I played the role of a "bean". Which meant wearing a burlap "coffee" sack stuffed with newsprint. To resemble a coffee bean you see. Our front man, Freedi, was one of the more outgoing of a rather outgoing class of students. His job was to cover the lyrics of The Coffee Bean Song. Our job as beans was to provide chorus. And choreography. We came on as the final act. There is no tougher room to play than one packed with a hundred drunken law students. We sang. We danced. Nobody tore a hole in their outfit. We blew them away. I never make or drink coffee without thinking of that routine.

Yesterday morning for example. Even though I have made dramatic progress on dialing down holiday stress at chez Epic, one way of making fun for yourself in any context is to steal fifteen minutes. Just for you. Solitude and a simple, satisfying task can provide enjoyment in the busiest day. Yesterday I decided to sit on my front porch with a cup of coffee and just enjoy the air. I was looking through my cabinet for a mug and found the fantastic turquoise cup pictured above. I was not sure how it came to be there. I had never used it. But when I picked it up and poured the java, I realized I had found a rare thing. A perfect union of function and form. This cup is just cool. The color. The balance when full. The perfectly sized handle. The fact that its dimensions cool the coffee at just the right pace. Perhaps something to do with the ratio of surface area to depth. Also, the cup's modest size means that it must be refilled every so often. Which enhances the experience due to the new cloud of aroma you receive every time you pour. I discovered that a truly great coffee cup holds enough coffee to make you happy but not so much that you force down a last, cold bit. A perfect thing like this is transporting. Using this cup, I felt like I was in an ocean-side diner. At Miami, 1955. Not a bad fifteen minute break.

There are some great coffee based web sites, like Cocoajava.com listed at the margin. Even a great literature of coffee. Some samples (from Cocoajava.com's library)...

As soon as coffee is in your stomach, there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move...similies arise, the paper is covered. Coffee is your ally and writing ceases to be a struggle.--Honoree de Balzac.

Suave molecules of Mocha stir up your blood, without causing excess heat; the organ of thought receives from it a feeling of sympathy; work becomes easier and you will sit down without distress to your principal repast which will restore your body and afford you a calm, delicious night.--Prince Tallyrand.

The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce.--Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

And my personal favorite...

Coffee is the common man's gold, and like gold, it brings to every person the feeling of luxury and nobility.--Sheik Abd-al-Kadir.

Even if no experience so grand has happened to me while drinking coffee, a great cup of coffee on a clear winter's day and that Old Miami Beach feeling were more than enough luxury and nobility pour moi. On a fifteen minute vacation. In the midst of the busy Holidays. Which, when I returned, made the rest of the day even more vibrant and delightful. That is the true Epic benefit of a short, self-oriented, break during the day. Try one and see.

Postscript: My mother is spending the Holidays with us. When she saw the perfect coffee cup she said it was from the very first set of dishes given to her and my father when they married. In Panama. 1957.


goooooood girl said...

your blog is feel good......

mustangmelatl said...

I covet that coffee cup...

M.Lane said...

GG, thanks so much! I try...

MM, I thought you might...

Thanks for the visits!!!


Ben said...

Brilliant meditation on the form/function nexus. Should've saved it for the first post of the new year, but I imagine you're just resetting the bar for yourself. Looking forward to more great thoughts in 2009.

heavy tweed jacket said...

I mist admit to being a tea drinker (who gave up coffee). However, the ritual and time needed too make a good cup is very similar. You are so right about the choice of a cup (and saucer) - it just completes the experience by being the vessel in which the look, smell and the taste of the coffee is carried. Your mother's china is fantastic!

M.Lane said...

Ben, thanks as always for your visit and great comment!

HTJ, I should have thought of the tea ceremony analogy! You are so right. As for the dishes, there are only two other pieces of the set left [due to a lot of moving about no doubt] and only the one cup. How on Earth it came to my hands is anyone's guess.


tintin said...

The Army introduced me to coffee and cigarettes in the early morning. Something unspoken was not far behind - - at least for me.

Today it's whole bean aged sumutra or Major Dickasons expresso ground and dumped in a French Press sans tobacco.

How soon our luxuries become neccessities. I was in Panama in 1977 with the 1/325...never saw china like that. I did see a Chinese girl in Cologne...best left unsaid.

M.Lane said...

Tintin, I am way into Sumatra also at this point. Also Sinatra, as you know.

The Cologne story needs to wait until a more proper environment...on 60th perhaps?


Easy and Elegant Life said...

Be careful Mr. Lane... I am now obsessed with making the perfect expresso. Which means a new machine, at the very least. Coffee can get addictive in more than one way.

In the meantime, mine's black, no sugar and a blend of Brazilian Santos beans and espresso roast.