I was the official “barista” of my father long before the term barista has become de rigueur in the circles of people who worship coffee. By barista I mean pouring a kettle of briskly boiling water into a small teacup containing a teaspoon of granulated coffee and dissolving a certain amount of sugar that is to my father’s exacting taste. My father doesn’t believe in the supposed perfect temperature for coffee (78 degrees centigrade according to some self-declared experts on coffee). For him it’s violently boiling water, or he won’t have his coffee. Coffee with some froth still floating on the surface to him is not “cooked,” and he will have nothing to do with it.
I took pride in the fact that he never had to adjust the amount of sugar when he asked me to make me a cup. When I visit my parents in the province once every two years or so, I automatically assume the role and pretend that I am making coffee for myself, and out of the generosity of my heart boil enough for the two of us when in reality I am making coffee for him and for the sheer satisfaction of seeing his face brighten up and hearing some nice statement that I will freely paraphrase here: that my sharpness in making his perfect cup has not gone away after many years of being away from home.