Memory Associations to Making Coffee

I think I’ve heard of this before: that our brains link certain events, and that sometimes doing one thing will remind us of doing another. Every time I make a coffee in the morning, I always think of two separate things. We use this mini Krups espresso maker that was a housewarming a gift from Roberto, whose coffee opinion I respect. It’s like a Gaggia-ultra-light with all the same bits but smaller and thousands of dollars less.

Memory Association 1: When I foam the milk, I think of my friend Amy, who used to work as a barista and gave us tips on how to achieve the ultimate milk foam. So as I dip the steam-spewing nozzle just below the surface of the milk, I think of Amy frothing milk, checking the pre-steam temperature (cold) and the post-steam temperature (baby bottle warm).

Memory Association 2: After my first taste of my perfectly frothed, discreetly sugared coffee, I think of the Montreal Trudeau Airport US departures lounge; of stopping for a latte at the Second Cup just after customs before heading down that long, glass walkway off to the right towards that last handful of departure gates.

The first memory is obvious: it links directly to the event at hand. The second is almost random: I’ve had much more memorable coffees in much more memorable places, so why do I link my morning coffee experience to something as banal as the Montreal airport? The thought is involuntary, but does it speak of something else, something hidden in my subconscious? We’ve been home for so long, maybe it’s the travel bug nagging me? Urging me to seek out a better coffee somewhere? Or reminding me how small, daily tasks (like getting a coffee) make foreign places more comfortable? Does the déjà vu play into this mechanism: linking seemingly random events that may never have even occurred before?

Learn about how memory works or, more bizarrely, how déjà vu works.

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One thought on “Memory Associations to Making Coffee

  1. Discreetly sugared. Nice touch.

    The whole entry has a distinctly Proustian atmosphere about it… (not that I’ve ever read him, but it does sound good don’t it?)

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