I used to be a smoker but like most Americans, I quit for health reasons. I don’t miss smelling like an ashtray but I miss that time alone.
In truth, I ended up trading one habit for another, now my habit is coffee. This gave me back that quiet time to reflect and be alone, or time chatting with a close friend. I believe what we call a ‘coffee break’ is more of a state of mind. We use coffee and smoking as a way to excuse ourselves from work, or whatever the daily drudgery is. It’s think time, or relax time, or get out of the cubical time. Maybe for mothers it’s their get away from the kids time or grown up time. Many times, I see mothers sitting with their kids while they have their coffee, making it quality family time.
Any day of the week you can walk into a coffee-house and see droves of people lining up to get their fix. Some sit and stay a while but some rush in and rush back out to meet whatever deadline is pressing on them. In my local coffee house we have a young lady that spends an entire day people watching and knitting. You can run in at anytime and see her in the same spot knitting and chatting with whichever local happens to sit across from her.
During the afternoon you’ll find small groups of people in a business meeting. I’ve seen employee interviews take place, and once even overheard a couple planning their divorce and custody arrangements. Evening time is more of a happy hour, where friends gather after work for a break before going home. Often you’ll find a group discussing their favorite novels in book clubs.
Most days every seat is taken with readers holding open books or writers with open laptops. I often wonder what they’re writing. What comes into their imaginations while taking in the wafting aroma of fresh ground coffee and toasting pastries? I think the man in the corner is writing about an underwater adventures or cowboys and Indians? The woman next to him is working on stories of the broken-hearted? Maybe the mother across the room is journaling her fight to keep cancer at bay and the man next to her is an ex-soldier documenting his time overseas. Any one of these people could be a scholar studying law or technology, researching ways to save the world or at least make it easier to live in.
All of this happens around me while I enjoy my coffee break. Their tasks could be as varying at the drinks they order. How about a venti, grande, tall, Frappuchinno with a floating shot of espresso, or a decaf, soy, non-fat, pumpkin, cinnamon, mocha. Do you like tea? Green tea, black or passion? Add lemonade to that?
My personal favorite is a triple, grande, skinny, vanilla latte. It’s my thinking drink, my break away from the tedium drink, and my way to relax drink.