“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”
July 2, 2020. A couple of years ago, I stopped counting how many times I rewatched this film – after you get to 50 times it gets embarrassing to keep counting. But today it was different, this quote made me think about love in general, and how it shapes our lives; I am not necessarily talking about romance: it is more taking care of our people, the affection we have for them, or even a kind gesture towards a stranger (the world needs more and more of these).
And I know this is a very random connection, but I couldn’t stop thinking that every time love is around, coffee is there with me: when I meet up with my girls we go get a coffee together, when my colleague is super tired I am there with a cuppa, when my sister had a horrible night and couldn’t sleep the only solution is a super strong espresso and a laugh. Coffee is my link to people, it is my favourite excuse to meet them or to make them feel loved, it is like saying “I am here with a coffee, both of us will uplift you”.
I think part of my relationship with coffee is due to my cultural heritage: a less happy example is that in Italy, during the wakes, we keep sending rounds of coffee for the people in the house of the defunct, to let them now that they are being taken care of.
Earlier I was talking about kind gestures towards strangers, and once again I immediately made a connection with Italy and coffee: have you ever heard of caffè Sospeso (suspended coffee)? Basically, it is a cup of coffee paid for in advance, anonymously, as an act of generosity and solidarity. Someone goes in the café and pays for two espressos but only receives one, leaving the other one they already paid for “suspended” for somebody that can’t afford it. It is a way to say that no matter what is your story, your current situation, you can always count on the generosity of the people around you for something that means nothing really, but actually means a lot. “Love actually is all around”, even in your espresso.
This tradition originated in Naples, it is not clear when or how the suspended coffee began, but it is believed it all started during World War II and became even more popular during the economic crisis of 2008: people were struggling, but this random act of kindness towards strangers restored my faith in humanity.
The best memory I have about coffee and my people, is an amazing drink I used to have with my friends in my hometown: I have never been able to replicate it perfectly, but it is still good. We used to go in our favourite café and have this drink to celebrate good news, to forget about a horrible day, or just as an excuse to meet up and catch up on our lives. Here is the recipe, it is super simple but I promise it is fantastic!
Ingredients for one person:
-double espresso, 60ml
-hazelnut gelato, 100ml
-irish liqueur, 30ml
-grated dark chocolate for topping
- Put the gelato and the liqueur in a blender
- put the mixture in a glass
- add the espresso while it is hot and stir
- top with the grated chocolate