Though the poetry post stood sentry, the only way in which it seemed to have been acknowledged in the past few weeks was by the strategic accumulation of trash strewn about it: abandoned couch cushions and deteriorating fliers read, “Will you go to Heaven when you die?”
I sat down with the space’s shabby and low to the ground wooden bench and summoned my notebook. After a few minutes, I clip a thick piece of stationary to the poetry post, along with the flowers of a purple pea plant. The night air, still and cool, seeps into my red woolen sweater. My silhouette, who is lither than I, sports a flowing short dress, and a pair of ass-kicking combat boots.
Walking away, my dry lips are all but glued together. The power of the pen, the inaudibility of my voice. A Siamese cat spots me, and bolts into the shadows. I watch its eyes glinting red, from where it hopes I will not take anymore note of it. My mind wanders to questions of the palate.
As I arrived at work today, there was just about one sip left of an Ethiopian brew on tap, before we spun the globe to Panama. It tasted of flower and berry, a full mouth sensation had me thinking of driftwood rolling up onto a beach in the surf. A co-worker tells me, “This is the first crop of the season…it’ll taste most floral now, less so later on. We’ll do a pour-over together soon.”
Think of the red berries of Coffea arabica trees growing somewhere in Ethiopia, still some remnants of white flowers that smell similar to jasmine. So odd that we must use one familiar plant to describe the same chemical from a less familiar location. If you think about it, and really think about it, our noses are fine tuned chemical detectors which we often fail to give credit to. I am told that the Panamanian coffee tastes of banana, since the coffee trees do not live far from banana plants down there. I think about the mycorrhizal connections which must be present. Fungi weaving resource networks between coffee and banana well beneath the surface of the earth. Allowing for one chemical compound to diffuse or be actively shuttled to neighboring plants that would never produce it otherwise, seeds pushing the foreign chemicals outwards into new spaces of the world they would never dream of traveling to.
And here I am, a barista with sensory and plant focused biochemical training. I have machines and contraptions in which to coax out the subtle nuances of a roast, and they are often quite inexact in my hands…sometimes the result might even appear to be uninspired. What if I were to perform an extraction with hot oil instead of water and pull out compounds which were fat soluble? [Notes of sleep deprivation; butter extracted coffee. What would it taste like?]
These are things which keep my mind active, the chemistry I must take into my own hands if I wish to learn.
I went on a “vacation” to Seattle for a day, to see what they do up there, and oh how it made me know more about the treasures I am working with where I already am.