Saturday, February 21, 2015

Daily Grind

Jamie Hurst, Daily Grind, digital sketch

Every time I open a new Word document and sit down to write a story or a blog post I get completely petrified. I can't think of what to say. Trying to fill the page with words is overwhelming and my mind becomes blank. Meanwhile, throughout the day my thoughts are filled with a continued dialogue of what I want to share and I feel like I'm screaming inside! I didn't realize what a part of my everyday life and thoughts this blog had become. It's been four years since I started it, and over the past year I've felt like it needed something different. Something more personal. A shared experience.

With all that being said, it turns out I have about an hour to myself a day (raises hands). With that time I'd like to write short thoughtful daily blog posts. These will be just a few sentences or maybe a few paragraphs or maybe sketches or photographs. I will still write longer posts about my travels and give as many recommendations for those travels as I can. But this way diving back in isn't so scary. How does that sound?

So on to today's thought/story…

At our local grocery store, The Sultan Center, and much like grocery stores everywhere, you can buy coffee. You can buy pre-packaged coffee or buy fresh grounds from the coffee guy. The coffee guy has a stand, more like a corner, in the store with an olive bar on one side and fresh nut bar on the other, I also frequent both of these. Around the corner is fresh produce and cheese. It's really all I need in life.

His corner has deep and wide wooden drawers filled with coffee. None of the drawers are labeled but he doesn't need them. He knows where everything is. There is a scale, two metal bowls (a small one and large one), two grinders, and a plastic wrapping machine on the counter (everything gets wrapped in plastic here. I mean why not? Oil is pouring out of the ground for nearly free just down the road! Plastic for everyone!) Above the counter is a menu that lists the following in English on one side and Arabic on the other: Royal Arabic, Arabic, Turkish, Greek, French, American. They are all the same price, about 2 KD for typical size bag which is roughly equivalent to about six USD.

The coffee guy really doesn't speak English but this is what I gathered each choice is: Royal Arabic is very lightly roasted whole coffee beans mixed with whole cardamom seeds then ground finely, almost to a powder. Arabic is the same but with no cardamom. Turkish coffee is similar to Royal Arabic but with a medium roast bean. French is dark roast or a mix of dark and medium roast ground less finely. American is a finely ground dark roast with milk. Greek is a finely ground dark roast with milk and coconut. (What?! More on this in a minute.)

The packaging of the beans is a production that Noah and I love watching. The coffee guy has the fluid of motion of someone who has perfected his craft. He does this and only this all day. Watching his hands move is mesmerizing. If you choose whole beans, he scoops them out of the draw with the small metal bowl and into the large one. He measure the amount on the scale and adds more beans as needed with a quick flick of the small bowl. After being weighed he moves the bowl to the counter. Ting, ting, ting, ting, as he turns the bowl and mixes the beans. In one motion he transfers the beans to a paper bag, not a single bean falling out, and folds the top down, staples it, flicks a plastic shopping bag open (or if you ask he will put it in a clear plastic bag and seal it) and puts it inside while grabbing the sticker with the price from the scale. This happens in less than a minute and with the expertise of a artist. All the while the intoxicating smell of freshly ground beans fills the air. I love it.

This time, I was insanely curious and had to buy the Greek coffee. First of all I'm from a Greek town in Florida (shout out to Tarpon Springs!) and I'd never heard of anyone adding coconut to their coffee there. I'd always had a cappuccino with my extra large serving of baklava. Secondly how was I to make this magical brew? The coffee guy had no idea what I was asking or how to explain.

I brewed it in my French press like I usually brew all coffee though I believe you could just put it in a cup and add hot water. Like a traditional Turkish coffee, the grounds settled on the bottom on their own. I got super excited because this was just as easy as making instant coffee, the milk was already in there, and it had a ton more flavor. The coconut was subtle but added a nice complexity that had me coming back for more. It's really the little things in life that make each day.

What is your coffee shopping experience like?

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