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Captivated by Coffee: Introducing the Coffee Greeting Cards

Starting my day with a steaming cup of hot coffee is one habit I particularly enjoy, and one I’m sure many of you share. Coffee is especially comforting in the bleak midwinter, hence the arrival of my new coffee cards.

Coffee’s sweet aroma wafts throughout the house as I grind the beans, and then again as I pour the steaming water over the grounds. This decadent smell seems to float through the air, following me around as the house awakens. I usually take my first sip in the middle of my morning workout. One would think I’d prefer a cold drink of ice water, but hot coffee seems to hit the spot.

A Step Above the Ordinary Cup

On a particularly cold or blustery day, I fire up my La Pavoni espresso maker. This vintage machine has been serving me faithfully for nearly 25 years. It continues to deliver delicious coffee drinks to friends and family alike.

While I have several syrups and can create a wide array of specialty drinks, my personal favorite is a straight-up latte, made with locally sourced whole milk and locally roasted and freshly ground coffee beans. It’s no wonder that I’m quite attached to my coffee habit.

Why We Love Coffee

Why do we crave a hot drink on a cold day? Why do we choose to meet friends in coffee shops? Where does our coffee obsession come from? I believe it at least in part stems from our predilection toward the nostalgic.

A Source of Memories

For me, drinking coffee started as a social event with those who were special in my life, my family or friends. We enjoyed sweet treats and a cup of coffee, always resulting in lengthy conversations and thus cherished memories.

A Travel Companion

Coffee drinking also holds significance because of its role in my wanderings. When I travel, I regularly scout out the best coffee shops. Some of my fondest memories include sitting with family or friends in a funky coffee shop in some strange and far-off city.

A Place to Meet Locally

Then, of course, I must not forget the local coffee shops. I’ve spent more time and money in these wonderful places than I care to admit! However, good times and great conversations are the irreplaceable fruit of these meetings. Time with loved ones is hard to come by, so I cherish each of these visits…and the accompanying cup of coffee.

My Husband’s Moka Pot Tradition

A number of years ago, my husband started a tradition. He would make us a moka pot of coffee when we were in the depths of a big (and usually unruly) outdoor project—one typically involving the yard, garden, or garage. As you moka pot aficionados know, these pots don’t make much coffee, just two small cups of this very stout elixir. But it hits the spot every time.

Not to mention, my husband usually makes it when we’re working in cool, blustery conditions, thus a hot beverage is welcome. Over the years, this little moka pot tradition has blossomed into more than just a cup of coffee. It’s a shared memory between me and the man I love. It’s a pause that refreshes and unites.

The Coffee Art Collection

Because I often drink coffee while writing cards, I inevitably needed to paint a series of art designs that revolved around coffee. I chose to include my favorite methods of brewing along with some of my favorite cups.

La Pavoni

Truth be told, I am in love with my La Pavoni espresso maker, so I had to paint it. As I created this design, the lines and details of this beloved machine had to be just right. Now as I look at the card design, it epitomizes what I love so much about coffee: serving it steaming hot to those who enter my home.

French Press

The next brewing method I painted is one I use every day, the French press. My husband and I have brewed coffee using a French press for decades. After breaking many glass beakers, we opted for a stainless steel insulated pot a few years ago. The insulated quality is a particularly nice feature. I admit I have a quirk; I like my coffee really hot. This pot does the trick in fine form.

Moka Pot

The most common method of brewing coffee in Italy is a moka pot. These little pots were invented by Alfonso Bailetti in 1933. He named the pot after Mocha, a city in Yemen that was renowned for particularly good coffee. My fondness for this brewing method made this pot a shoo-in for this collection.

Coffee Plant

Coffee beans are actually the seeds inside the coffee fruit, which looks like a small cherry. The branches hold beautiful clusters of red coffee cherries. A coffee tree will take four to five years to produce its first fruit and then will only produce about a pound of coffee beans in a single year. Knowing that these beans take so much work makes me appreciate each cup of coffee even more.

Coffee Cups

I have many favorite coffee mugs and cups, but choosing which ones to paint was an easy decision. My first choice was an ancient blue and cream Spode espresso cup and saucer that I picked up years ago in a second-hand shop. The other cups are a set of multi-colored, striped espresso cups. Their bright colors bring me joy every time I drink from them.

The next time you sit down to write a thank you note or get-well card, I hope you’ll choose a card with a coffee pot or cup on the front. And inevitably, doing so will inspire you to make a cup for yourself. Because what better way to write a card than with a steaming cup of coffee at your side?

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Coffee Brewed

All we want to do these cool, winter days is curl up with a hot mug of freshly brewed coffee. With the morning news. In a Yeti mug as we go out the door to work. Meeting friends at a coffee shop. Weak church brew in the narthex on Sunday mornings. Espresso and chocolate truffles after dinner. When is it not a good time for coffee?

The Many Faces of Coffee

It can be made as simply as the “dirty stick coffee” we would make when hiking in the mountains. With this method, we mix water and grounds and place them in a pot over a campfire and stirred with a stick (hopefully not a dirty one) from the nearby forest. Coffee also takes on an artform created by a master barista such as the sage latte made by Avery Burke of the Temporarium in San Francisco. In this drink deemed by many to be the world’s most complicated, he starts by frosting the rim of the cup in pomegranate molasses, curry powder, and cayenne pepper. This drink then involves cream steeped in blackened (a blowtorch is involved here) sage leaves and cream, anise, and brown sugar then poured over espresso. Coffee can include ingredients from all the food groups, from brown butter to pumpkin to hazelnut to cinnamon.

Straight Coffee

So whatever happened to plain ol’ coffee? Straight up, hot, and black? Well, that’s out there too. Sometimes as a pour over, other times a cold brew, French press, or Chemex, only a few of the many methods of brewing pure, black coffee. Last year I attended a series of coffee tasting events called cuppings. These are much like a wine tasting.

Single origin beans from a specific country, region, and/or farm are brewed at an ideal temperature and for a specific length of time to show off the coffee’s best traits. Cuppings include smelling, swishing the drink across the taste buds, and then spitting it out (which, of course, I could never bring myself to do). In places such as these, you can appreciate the taste of beans from Guatemala versus Ethiopia and how fermentation, rainfall, or elevation affect the flavor of the drink. Furthermore, you can hear stories of the hard working farmers who toil in all sorts of conditions to bring us the most delicious beans possible.

At its Finest

My many rich experiences with this drink have inspired me to slow down and smell the process. To appreciate what goes into a great cup. The aroma of the freshly ground beans or the steaming richness of the elixir poured from my French press to my tall pottery mug. As with so many other things in life, we can drink coffee, or we can savor it. I first dipped my toes into this proverbial coffee stew by drinking conventionally percolated grocery store brew.

As time progressed so did my palate. Mostly this happened gradually as the coffee culture in our society developed. I do, however, have some hallmark memories of firsts. For example, the first time I walked into the original Dunn Bros. on Grand Avenue in St. Paul, Minn., and smelled beans roasting in their massive Probat roaster. Or the time I sipped my first perfectly crafted espresso, crested with just the right amount of crema. I was standing at a espresso bar just feet from the Duomo in Florence, Italy. Those Italians…and their coffee…

The Cup

One can’t leave the topic of coffee without also discussing mugs. Everyone has their favorite size and shape. Mine tend to be tall, narrow at the top to keep the drink hot, and hand crafted. On the other hand, I’m also drawn to ones that carry poignant messages such as the simple heavy white ones with “call your mother” inscripted on the side. Maybe you use vintage cups given to you by your grandmother or ones collected on a particularly memorable trip. Whether it’s squat and wide to show off a talented barista’s design in the froth or sturdy with a tight lid to bring on a car trip, we all seem to have a preference.

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For me, as much as I love my coffee brewed in just the right way and as much as I like drinking it out of a mug of my choosing, the most important thing about this drink is who we drink it with. As interesting as the history and the story, coffee is simply the vehicle, or rather the impetus that brings people together. Family, loved ones, friends. In your kitchen, on your front porch, or on the patio of your local coffee shop. It’s the conversation over the drink that’s the memory created. Enjoying coffee you love with people you love. That is the good life.