Pour-Over Coffee and Kids

On Easter morning this year, I woke up and did a double-take of the light peaking under my bedroom door. It was 6:30am. 6:30!!! I didn’t know my body was capable of sleeping that late anymore. I guess when I’m not woken up by toddler cries, anything is possible.

I messed with my hair in the bathroom for a while and when I went to the living room, Kyle was sitting criss-cross applesauce in a meditative bliss with his giant headphones on. I smiled at the thought of this is what he was looking forward to with the child being out of the house. I went straight to my notebook.

When Leo has sleepovers at Grandma’s, Kyle and I usually go out for coffee in the morning. But on Easter Sunday, Kyle suggested better.

“Let’s stay home and make pour-overs.”

Let’s. Make. Pour-overs.

To make a pour-over coffee, you fold the filter a special way, you heat up water to the right temperature, you grind the coffee beans to a specific consistency, and you make a consistent, patient pour every 10 seconds for about 4 minutes. You won’t be surprised that we hadn’t made pourovers in over 2 years.

I was hesitant when Kyle suggested it, so accustomed now to just getting the caffeine down my throat ASAP. Really though, I didn’t want to mess up a pour-over. Pre-parenthood, I made these for us every morning, but I wasn’t confident I could still do it right. And when you mess up coffee once in the morning, it’s the first taste that stays with you the rest of the day.

Kyle insisted.

It had been so long that we couldn’t find the pourover filters. I thought, this just isn’t in the cards for us. We are not worthy of pourovers anymore; we’re parents! No longer are we the snobby coffee drinkers from our 20s.

But Easter morning, we were determined to be.

He kept looking, so I helped, and I found them. I think Kyle was shocked I hadn’t thrown them away in my notorious efforts to minimize in the worst way.

Kyle didn’t remember how to fold the filter or what the coffee-to-water ratios were. But I did; I got the perfect fold on the first try. I measured the beans and the water, then let my freshly meditated husband to the patient pouring.

Moments later, we had two cups of gold.

We had our coffee date right there on the couch, the front door open with the birds chirping, the Master’s golf tournament on mute. I sipped my perfect pourover and quickly realized why I was hesitant to make them.

The ritual felt so enjoyable that it was painful.

Shortly after Leo was born, my mom looked at me holding him and said, “Don’t you just forget what life was like before him?”

I laughed. No, I remembered it all too well. Then and now, I remember savoring my daily pour-overs with my husband on the couch, me sipping slowly and writing rapidly while he enjoyed simply breathing and thinking of random questions to ask me, as Kyle does. I remember how deliciously long those mornings felt, full of possibility and spacious enough for my ambition.

It scared me how good this quiet, childless morning felt, because I feared I wouldn’t get it again for another two years (irrational – Leo has sleepovers at Grandma’s at least once a month). But I knew it was exactly what I needed.

I hate to admit how hard motherhood often feels. How can I be so madly in love with, enchanted by, and crazy about my small human and equally love and cherish and be enchanted by a long, slow pour-over coffee? Why do these two things have to conflict so badly? How can I have both?

About a year ago, I went to my favorite local coffee shop to work on writing, and I bought a bag of coffee beans for home. “Do you want them ground?” the barista asked. I thought about it for a second before shamefully and quietly replying, “yes.” Because just in case Leo slept past 5am, I wouldn’t have to grind the beans in the morning and risk waking him. When I sat down and waited for my order, I saw the next person in line buy a bag of beans as well.

“Would you like them ground?” the barista asked.

“Of course not! People actually have you grind them beforehand? That ruins the fresh cup of coffee!”

This jerk.

I stopped getting my beans already ground after that, because I have a coffee-snob image to hold up. But I mommified my extra work by getting my kiddo involved. Leo helps me scoop the beans in the grinder, counting up to 1 scoop, 2 scoops, 3 scoops as we go. Then I put my hand on his while we push on the grinder, and we both shriek in delight at the loud noise. He then sets the filter in the machine, clumsily scoops the grounds into the filter and my heartrate rises trying to keep all the quality coffee grounds from falling to the floor, then he helps me fill the water. When the drip machine beeps a few minutes later, Leo yells, “Mommy’s coffee!” and my heart melts. He’s as excited as I am for my morning cup.

It’s a different kind of coffee ritual with a whole different energy to it, but one that I love.

Shortly after that blessed Easter pourover, I’m having my writing time at another coffee shop when I see a man and his teenage son come in. They both order pour-overs, then sit a few tables down from me. I hear them talking and frequently laughing together the whole hour they’re there, and what a treat it was to witness. No phones. No distractions. Just father and son enjoying quality conversation and coffee.

I think of Leo squealing, “Mommy’s coffee!” and wonder if I’m laying the foundation for my most enjoyable coffee ritual yet.

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