|A view of Lantau Island, Hong Kong|
The Best Cup of Coffee I Ever Had
It might have been due
To the light drizzle we faced
As we disembarked from the ferry
Onto Lantau Island.
It could have been the camaraderie
Of good friends
Coming together for a weekend
Of hiking and camping.
We set out with our backpacks and folded tents
On the gradual incline of a path
That would wind its way
Above the bay
And up the gentle mountainside.
Cool air prevailed
As the light rain fell.
That coolness settled
Into our hands and feet
When the sun dropped down below
The crest of the low-lying hills.
I have had so many cups of coffee
In the courses of my days.
Coffee at home
At friends’ tables
In fine restaurants
At roadside diners.
I have sipped coffee from steaming mugs
On winter days,
From fine china
On summer evenings
And from the basic white cup
Of a sidewalk café in Paris.
My taste in coffee
Has covered many brands
And many roasts.
Sometimes it had to be a robust French roast,
Sometimes a mellow “house roast” blend.
There were seasons when I expected
That sharp edge of a dark roast
To pierce through the cloaking of cream
That I stirred in.
Other seasons required the light and buoyant taste
Of a “breakfast blend.”
There have been days upon days
When I endured the tepid results
Of a new brand of coffee with a great ad campaign,
Looking forward to the last scoop in the bag
When I could return to
The tried and true
Of the hardy favored brand
That I should have never departed from in the first place.
Many have been my days of coffee,
But it was on that first night
While camping on Hong Kong’s Lantau Island
That all past and future cups
Came into focus.
All coffee would henceforth be
At best, a valiant attempt to compare.
Just before the night began to step in
We decided that we had found our campsite.
There was a small creek for water,
And a level area to pitch our tents.
Our first task was to start a fire.
Wood was gathered and the fire was started.
“Now we need to get us some coffee,”
Our friend and hiking guide said.
He had some tablets
That would purify spring water.
Just to be safe
We boiled the water sufficiently
In addition to adding the tablets.
With water ready
My only cup was a plastic cereal bowl
And my coffee was instant powder stored in my bag.
Yet with the cold of night settling in,
Feet wet from hiking in the rain,
And good friends gathered,
That cup of instant coffee
Make from purified creek water
Drunk from a plastic bowl
Remains in my memory
The best cup of coffee
I have ever had.
Photo: "Beaches on Lantau Island, Hong Kong," from Peanuts or Pretzels travel site: