Finding Balance in a Few Sips of Coffee

My grandparents took my family and I to a Greek restaurant a few nights ago. We love the cuisine, and after a hearty dinner, I ordered a Greek coffee to accompany my baklava. Similar if not the same thing as Turkish coffee, this small, espresso-sized serving of coffee is “strong like ox.” One brews this coffee in a briki/ibrik/cezve, and upon pouring the coffee into the demitasse — tiny mug — some of the grounds follow the liquid. I find few food combinations better than alternating sips and bites of strong, bitter coffee with a sweet muffin or dessert. I ask for medium-to-light sweetness in my Greek coffee, just enough to cut the harsher tones while leaving the strong body intact. The sweetness of the baklava, in this case, balanced out the strength of the coffee, and it was a moment in heaven for yours truly. The coffee is served piping hot, naturally, so what might otherwise be two gulps becomes an elongated experience to fully enjoy the product. The beverage lasts the extent of ten minutes before the true test arises. Because a thin layer of fine coffee grounds sit at the bottom of the demitasse, the consumer does well to avoid taking the very last sip. Traditionally, at least for the Turks, the individual turns over his mug and reads his fortune from the grounds deposited upon the saucer. I find the ritual to be nonsense, and I struggle to refrain from the deceptive last sip — I know what lies under the liquid. When I drink “craft” or specialty coffee on the daily, the last sip is almost always the best. The beverage has cooled and the remnants of flavor have fully set in, providing a sip tasting much different from the first 11.5 ounces of filtered bean juice. Not so with Greek coffee, yet the struggle of what could be still conflicts with what actually is. I must exercise control to avoid a failed attempt at filtering the fine grounds between my teeth. There in the bottom of my demitasse sits a lasting memory of something delicious, but it is impossible to divide bone from marrow. So I push my saucer forward, indicating that I am finished. Attempts to salvage one last drop of coffee would be futile. Such is life, isn’t it? Temperance is one of the Cardinal virtues. Create a list for yourself of areas where you can restrain from taking the last sip. You wouldn’t want life to come back and bite you. Happy New Year! Have a great 2018.

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