The hum of the massive silver espresso machine gave the chocolatey room a warmth that belied the sleekness of the chrome. Booth seats lined the walls, the only light coming from the folded glass doors pulled back to let in the air and customers in, and a few well-placed lamps.
Outside the sun baked the pavement in a bright sunlight, leeching the colour from the passing traffic.
A humble gathering of caffeine petitioners stood waiting, their orders given, the only noise now the bustle, grind and steaming of the barista who moved with carefully coordinated steps, a dance of beverage preparation seen at cafes the world over.
Roasted beans, warm milk and the slightly sweet smell of syrup lingered on the tiny breeze that filtered its way through.
Satchel clutched closely he eyed off his fellow customers trying to pick who ordered first and how long would he have to wait for his cup of comfort, the morning ritual.
Two young hipsters walked away first with their decaf soy macchiato and piccolo almond latte.
Then came the triple shot long black…
A cappuccino and a caramel flat white…
A green tea and English breakfast…
His was next.
The grey-haired lady standing straight and immaculately coiffed started to fidget beside him. She flapped her arm, swishing the linen wrap up to her elbow so she could see the time on the small gold watch and sighed deeply.
Just as the barista placed his cup on the counter she swept past and snatched his drink from her.
‘I am sorry – but I just can’t wait any longer’
And then she was gone.
He looked up at the barista, her hand frozen and hovering over the spot where the cup once stood. Then slowly moving her other hand up from behind the machine she placed the grey lady’s coffee on the counter.
He looked at the coffee and then at the door, willing her to come back with his drink.
Silent and slightly stunned.
‘I can make you another one…?’ The barista smiled in sympathy. ‘Her coffee is quite strong and I don’t think she’ll get any enjoyment from yours…’
At that thought he smiled as well and shyly nodded. The only customer left now, he didn’t have to wait long for his first chai of the day.