My Morning Mocha

No Apologies

latte art

I know I’m living in the kingdom of enough when a simple pleasure feels like a divine gift. For me this special treat is my morning mocha. One ordinary ingredient and two divine stimulants are required: milk, coffee, and chocolate. At home, with my espresso machine, I balance the three each morning to concoct not just a beverage, but a ritual.

First, I pull two shots of decaf espresso and take a whiff as I pull it out from under the brewhead. Then comes the cocoa. My favorite is Dagoba, which has little bits of dark chocolate mixed in with the cacao powder and is made in Ashland, Oregon from fair trade ingredients. The quote on the can says it all: “You can deprive the body, but the soul needs chocolate.” I pour nonfat milk into a small metal pitcher, add the cocoa, and place it under the steam wand as hissing fills the morning silence.

A tough barista can tell when the milk is hot enough by touching the bottom of the pitcher, but I prefer a thermometer. When it gets to 140 degrees, I briskly stir the steaming liquid to make sure all those chocolate bits are suffused into the hot milk and then pour it into my go-cup along with the espresso. Now the drinking ritual can begin.

If I correctly estimated how much milk to pour into the pitcher before steaming, I now have a small amount of intensely flavored hot chocolate left over, which I pour into a tiny espresso cup. For the past forty minutes I have been in high gear getting ready for work, but now a moment of stillness blesses the morning, like stepping through the door of a church when the sounds of the city fade behind you. I stand still, look out the kitchen window, and swallow my few sips of hot chocolate. The mocha itself, sealed in the thermal go-cup, comes in the car with me, not to be drunk until I am at my desk forty miles away in the Foothill Library.

What is it about a mocha? The alchemy of the espresso machine achieves a balance between intense flavors along with a sensuous mouth feel. A Dagoba mocha is hot and velvety, dancing the tightwire between bitter and sweet. It is elegant, complex, and completely grounded in nature. But I don’t really need to analyze it. I simply accept it as a token of affection from the divine.

What is the simple pleasure that delights your spirit?