Driving instructions & learning to be a Barista level out the playing fields
And so it goes………… “Oh, through a veil of mist Sipho asks – “so what do you think you did wrong there?”. Wrong there – flip I’m trying to put the indicator on, watch the road, trying not to perspire like a piglet in terror, hold the steering wheel at the perfect position whilst listening to the sound in the gearbox asking to change from 2nd to 3rd gear. Say whaaat. This brain needs to be bullied into action …..”
We are laughing, so much the tears are spilling down our cheeks and turning our masks into wet rags – yes the brain still has to accept that a secret force is not trying to suffocate me with ether so they can take all my inheritance when I keel over or hyperventilation….”
After a haarim-scaarim morning at the Cafe – load shedding chaos at breakfast time, a new young waitress in tears, grumpy customers – our minds had gone into overdrive and the bodies into shock
Power outages implemented in South Africa to save electricity for the grid, due to misappropriation of billions of Rands thereby rendering our Electrical Power stations damaged, under maintained and blowing up. 8am – 10am over a weekend is a Cafes’ busy time but without electricity the credit card machine link has gone awol (absent without leave), milkshake maker retirement, cash register got lockjaw, coffee machine cold shoulder, electric stove tops not navigable and oven non functional
Anyway, we won’t “go there” – this is a piece to take you back in time and a laugh along memory lane instead
It was space in time that I would have joined Harry Potter with his porters’ trolly and suitcases – to escape! But, no seree – Instead, I requested Chris’ Barista to give me a my first coffee making lesson
SIPHO THE MAN
Being the easy going fellow he is, Sipho took this challenge on with a smile and enthusiasm. He is actually a Barista Instructor, so could I find a better teacher -I think not 😊
You know, it was like learning to drive. DO YOU REMEMBER THOSE DAYS? Learning to drive
On about cup number 3 I suggested he leave me to teach my left brain to work out the knobbies on the instrument, my right brain to hold the jug into the frother arm hissing out volcanic pressurised hot steam, right hand to hold the jug ‘just so’. All to manipulate this white liquid into a thingy-majig to break down sugars & fat in the milk to create a creamy topping & design
So there I am in hysterics, saying – okay I have the steering wheel, Sipho. Holding at 10 to 10 on the dial (white knuckles and sweaty palms) staring into the tarred road ahead
My driving instructor suggests we turn left at the upcoming intersection – by God…. Indicator – where is it? Eyes off steering wheel, flick indicator, glance back at the steering wheel and somehow the car has managed to go looking for parking way over to the right
Neeeooooow, freewheel around the bend in no gear at all – taking a gaddoomph bump over the corner of the kerb – left foot engaging the clutch.
My driving teacher peeps at me out of the corner of her eye, and calmly asks that we pull over at the next parking – please, oh please don’t let the next parking be a parallel parking because that ain’t gonna be a happenin
Fantastic, relief – there is a God and Guardian Angels, an open piece of grass appears to the left – I bet she knew it was coming up but just testing my nerves! These canny teachers know the routes like the back of their hands
STAR WARS GENERATION
Well, in my case – at 56 – driving a coffee machine felt like going back in time to beam me up Scottie and Star Wars. One assumes driving is going to be easy as we spend our lives in cars – but fortunately I did not anticipate becoming a Barista in the first hour or there would’ve been tears. Everybody can do it, right!?
You know, we plonk ourselves in a comfy seat at a Café, order a flat white, espresso, cappuccino and so on, chat away with our friends oblivious to the skill behind that warming cup of comfort – and caffeine hit
Oh, through a veil of mist Sipho asks – “so what do you think you did wrong there?”. Wrong there – flip I’m trying to put the indicator on, watch the road, trying not to perspire like a piglet in terror, hold the steering wheel at the perfect position whilst listening to the sound in the gearbox asking to change from 2nd to 3rd gear. Say whaaat. This brain needs to be bullied into action
We are laughing, so much the tears are spilling down our cheeks and turning our masks into wet rags – yes, the brain also has to accept (the mask) that a secret force is not trying to suffocate me with ether so they can take all my inheritance when I keel over or hyperventilation
Halt!!! Assess the equipment before me. Seriously – it’s only a machine, scalding hot water & steam – nothing sinister there – milk being boiled into a devil’s cauldron that in the blink of an eye can turn into the wrong size bubbles and ruined. In the background tunes of Abba ring out “money money money, must be funny, in the rich mans’ world….. ahh haaa, haaa haa uuuh…. All the things I could do …. With this milk munneeey…. “
Suddenly a headache strikes like a cobra, brain rebellion. Well, I am learning a new skill, under pressure at this age, a dinosaur. Darling Harry Potter – I have a close eye on you (when I can drag my eyes away from the steering wheel without writing off the coffee machine / motor vehicle), are you ready for Platform 9 ½ because I am there.
Really, Did I REQUEST this lesson?
IF I HAVE TO WEAR A NEW HAT …..
Yes, indeed. If the next hat I have to wear is in food (Chris’ Café or anywhere else in the world) a Barista I’d choose to be. Barista’rism is a sought after skill in this rushed caffeine addicted modern world and I will be en route to the magic golden thread of coffee. Still, in these Covid afflicted times, coffee is one of the world’s most popular drinks and produced in more than 50 countries
What do you think of this idea ? That perhaps take-away cups should be made up of biodegradable coffee granules which are discard into pot plants or the garden for extra delicious plant nutrition after use. Therefore, all is recycled in the end. If one can make sheets from bamboo, glue from tree sap and paper from reeds – why not cups from coffee bean grounds?
Are you aware of plants’ love for coffee grounds? I am a green fingered maniac but never knew until I met Sipho.
Neuro plasticity and reactivating neural networks is what this process is all about. The nuts & bolts of that good ole grey matter upstairs – ability of neural networks in the brain to change through growth and reorganisation. Pathways In the brain make new connections, to systematic adjustments like cortical remapping. Just saying 😊
NOW ON TO THE COFFEE GRINDING – eek, not yet
The milking station is just one aspect. Now I am handed a china cup holding a rich creamy espresso shot (that is another lesson – grind, tap, filter…) and shown how to pour the milk (dairy, oat, soya and almond apparently receive the same treatment). Dive in with a gush of frothed milk, cup at perfect angle being held with left hand (which is usually a bit behind the times as my right hand is very dominant). Do the jiggeddy jig with the creamy liquid “anti clockwise Roz” – brain trying to work out what wise this is – which insect in action … anti, flyi, mothi … I am just being obedient. Swirling whilst left and right hands are being guided from behind by my teacher. Lift jug a bit higher, yes that’s great, now go, swoop with foam and wiggle the hand and edge forward to make the beautiful leaf pattern.
FORGET IT, I’M OUTTA HERE FOR THE DAY
Admiring the foam decoration has taken on A WHOLE NEW MEANING – I think this is a flippin PICASSO!
All this has to take place in seconds, in a dainty round cup. By the time the information has been processed, streaks of lightning reach the hairline – cup alarmingly full, oops the floodgates open, dam wall breaks – coffee served in saucer. There we go, new fashion – when in Rome do as the Romans – coffee in a saucer served with a sprig of lavender. I believe these lessons should take place in a huge soup bowl and I STATE MY CASE – this is akin to learning to drive in a MK 10 Jaguar without insurance
SWEATY, STARING AT THE ROAD
The secret is repetition to train the brain, a routine. So, we set off from the patch of grass again, feeing less shaken. Straight road, minus 30 miles per hour, traffic gathering behind me – anxiety levels growing. Stop street, restart stalled car – over spinning the starter motor, gears 1st to 4td and kangaroo hop, handbrake engaged – burning smell – “don’t forget to watch your mirrors regularly” – what, and take my eyes off the road, steering wheel, indicators and gearstick. Does this teacher think I am an octopus wannabee or what
Sipho taps my right shoulder to relax, it’s helping my ear don’t you see – they are nearly connected at this stage of the game and converting into frozen shoulder interpreting into a thumping headache
Okay, let’s have a 10 minute recess. In the parking lot the driving instructor replaces floor boards with cardboard boxes as there are gigantic shoe holes from ghost foot pedalling. In the Café, Sipho ducks into the scullery with his silver jug, returns with a squirt of dishwashing liquid & water – instead of milk. MK 10 Jaguar becomes a Ford Focus, no more hocus pocus, now I can focus
Lesson 2 resumes Saturday week, homework to eat beetroot, ginger, spinach & waddda waddda to get those Popeye neurotransmitters up to speed & pour, pour, pour …… to the sounds of Neil Diamonds “Clickety clack like a train on the track …..”
Clickety clack, “I think I can do it, I think I can do it – toot toot – whoosh woosh, clickety clack clickety clack