There are things in life that should not be compromised. One of these is coffee and more importantly ones morning ritual towards obtaining that coffee. I had fallen into a funk that lasted only 10 days or so but quick diagnosis of the funk could be traced to a change up in my morning routine….or my lack of a morning. I had started to work on my photos late into the night and falling asleep whenever it happened and each night it got later and later. My alarm would still go off at the same time but I would turn it off and sleep until I woke up, which kept getting later and later until one day I woke up at 3pm and realized that I had been getting up at the same time for 4 days. There’s something about waking up that late that makes me feel like a slacker. I am a man of leisure after all but not a video gaming teenage stoner on summer break. Stuff still has to get done son and I really needed to get my morning groove back. Last night while walking to a friend’s house I decided I had had enough and was going to take my mornings back over.
One of my favorite things about that deal I made with my previous employer in March was that I could now have my entire day free to do the things that I couldn’t do when I was working. All the things that keep us day dreaming and hating the grind. I was now free to take my time with whatever I wanted, including my coffee. I did have and still have much grander plans in store but appreciating coffee is a good place to start. Every day would last an eternity if I wasn’t “working” and I wanted those eternal days to start early and with Cuban coffee so I could go wherever I wanted and take as long as I wanted and handle my coffee (or anything else) guilt free without feeling that I was taking too long to get ready to go to that J-O-B. With no car I had to walk or bike to that coffee and because of this I was able to see many things in my neighborhood for the 1st time. Everything looks, sounds, and smells better when you aren’t driving. I had promised myself that I would live on $10 a day and was making that happen. $1.50 for morning coffee was of little consequence and even with that I was able to eat for the rest of the day under $10.
In April my friend Manu was traveling from Costa Rica to the Virgin Islands and for whatever reason the layover in Ft. Lauderdale is almost 20 hours so I told her she could crash at my pad. For putting her up she gave me a bag of Costa Rican coffee. My roommate has a Kuerig coffee maker so making my own coffee would be dropping off the $1.50 a day and help me save some money. I was also working on cutting a little weight and as Cuban coffee is LOADED with sugar, the drop in sugar would be good too. Two strong cups and I was good to go for the day with maybe a cup in the afternoon. Manu’s coffee lasted a little over a month but I got some French Roast from Publix and continued making coffee at home not quite realizing that I was missing all the benefits of my previous morning routine.
There are three primary places in my neighborhood that I have gotten my coffee for the past couple of years. One is a little farther because it’s in my old neighborhood but I still go there because the coffee girl is cute and even though I do not know her name we have had a caffeinated relationship for some time and those things are hard to walk away from. So sometimes I walk the two miles there and charge it to exercise. Another place, Cafe QBano takes 11 minutes to walk to and requires crossing Biscayne in the morning, always a sketchy proposition. But Nancy, the Cuban owner, makes a mean colada and makes me speak Spanish so it’s always a complete cultural experience. 79 Cafe is the closest and easiest to get to and walking to 79th is a sensory experience in itself that gets you going in the morning.
It’s just two blocks from my house past old Miami houses that were built when craftsmanship mattered and down an alley behind some businesses. On one side of this alley you will probably see the guy that lives under the banyan tree asleep on his couch, tucked in the corner of the lot where many cars cannot see him. On the other, as you walk behind China Palace, you may be early enough to see the chickens of the day behind the barred window, hanging on a string in the kitchen awaiting preparation. And for that day you know that if you choose to eat there, you could in fact be eating chicken and not the other things that the mind conjures up when eating Chinese food. After the alley you pop out on the sidewalks of Biscayne Ave, walking a few doors down entering the small cafe next to the major bus stop at 79th & Biscayne. This bus stop is always a great place to see that intermingling of people that is one half commuters on the way to their day and one half crack head/homeless finishing their nights and stumbling to their resting places in the alleys on the west side of Biscayne. Regardless of what happens, inside 79 Cafe Dago will greet you each day with a smile and deliver what you require.
Last night I still stayed up late but this morning got up at 10 instead of 3. The walk to 79 Cafe was as consistent as it ever was and I looked for those things that I had noticed before. I could smell trees that were still flowering and hear the clustermess of a symphony that is 40 birds and 3 dogs, the rhythmic clip clop of my Vans hitting the pavement and bouncing off keeping the time. The man that lives on the couch under the banyan tree in the alley was just getting up but I was too late to see the day’s chickens hanging in the kitchen at China Palace. When I walked in to 79 Cafe Dago asked where I had been for so long. “Around….just around” was my response and he winked understandably and got right on my coffee. Tomorrow is another day and I’ll get up a little earlier perhaps catching the morning bus stop rush. I suppose I also have to get around to the other coffee stops that I haven’t been to since April.