As we are all aware, advertising is predicated on a lie. That lie is that buying a particular product will make you happy. All you require to make your life perfect is the right vehicle, item of clothing, toothpaste or whatever. Drinking a particular beer will make you more attractive to the opposite sex, likewise using a particular shampoo. And no, you’re not too fat to wear our eye shadow.
None of this will come as any surprise, and I presume we all fight this as much as we can, even if we are deluding ourselves into believing we’re buying a product based on it’s merits and utility rather than the image it presumes to project about those who use it. Having said all that, I recently experienced a feeling of great enjoyment due to buying something.
As I’ve made known, I drink rather too much coffee than is good for me. I used to drink an entire pot of filter coffee every morning and would often have a cup or three during the work day depending on my level of tiredness or boredom. This changed when a friend of my ex girlfriends’ gave us an espresso machine that was surplus to his requirements as he’d just bought an even fancier one. It took residence in my house as she had literally nowhere to put it, and I became an ardent espresso drinker from that point on. I drank a lot of lattes, but gradually phased the milk out of the scene, although I always kept some half and half on hand for her breves. About a year ago she bought me a demi tass and saucer from the place where we first met and I put it to immediate use. The cup held three shots, so two triples quickly became my daily dose. The cup was a little on the thick side, but no matter, as I felt that the cups’ diminutive stature lent it an air of sophistication.
One consequence of us splitting up was that I now found myself with some financial wiggle room, and although I had no intention of going crazy, I did decide to treat myself to something special. Ever since I set up the espresso machine ( A Saeco Royal Professional), I had harboured the idea of buying a set of vintage, or at least mid century modern coffee cups, but decided against it due to my poor finances.
Fast forward to last month. I headed over to the Etsy website and began searching for demi tasse sets, and leaving aside the $350 Limoges I began searching for the right set. As is usually the case, something jumped out at me pretty early on: a 12 piece Bavarian set in ivory porcelain with a hand-painted Queen Anne’s Lace design, made some time between 1900 and 1910. at only $50 it seemed like a great deal, so I placed my order and waited. I was somewhat disappointed a couple of days later to learn from the vendor that it was only a 10 piece set, rather than the 12 as advertised, but seeing as I’m very unlikely to have five people over all of whom want espresso, I went ahead with the purchase anyway.
A short time later I picked up my package from the post office and opened it as soon as I got home. There was no way I was going to leave the cups unused, so I fired up the machine in anticipation. I can’t begin to explain just how excited I was, as the pieces were all in perfect condition and so delicate as to defy belief. Each cup and saucer weighed almost nothing, the cups are paper thin, and when full, the coffee is visible through the side. Brim-full, the cups only just hold two shots, but this concentrates the crema perfectly, producing a thick, uniform layer atop the coffee. What just blew me away was the fact that something so delicate had survived so long undamaged, although they probably spent most of their existence locked safely away in a dining room china cabinet.
Not so in this house. One thing I did learn from my ex girlfriend is that what you drink out of is as much a part of the experience as what you drink. With handles no bigger than my thumb nail and a saucer delicate beyond belief, I just had to make immediate use of them. As I’d already had my regular morning allowance, I restricted myself to two cups, meaning that by the time I left for work I’d had 10 shots of espresso.
My morning routine has altered somewhat as a result. I now take a good half hour or more to sit in my glider by the window and savour three cups while reading and relaxing. Being so small, there’s nothing to be gained by knocking the coffee back like tequila shots in a bar, and the experience of handling something so small and exquisite really does add a layer of enjoyment it is difficult to describe. I get to experience every sip to the full, and can make a double last a lot longer than a triple from my old cup, which is now banished to the back of the crockery cupboard for use in extremis only. I know it may all seem a bit too precious, but I am really enjoying being able to put to use something that probably only ever saw the light of day a couple of times a year. And lest you think I’m exaggerating, this is what they look like:
Yeah. Exactly. Tell me that drinking out of a cup like this wouldn’t feel special. I bet you can’t do it with a straight face. Suffice it to say that my new routine has resulted in a much more relaxed start to the day and my mood has improved, which is no bad thing. I know that they’re an indulgence, but can you really blame me? I mean, who can say that using something so special can’t be justified? I’d rather something be put to it’s intended purpose than languish in a cabinet collecting dust. I suppose I should finish now and start getting ready for work. Hmm. I wonder if I have time for just one more cup.