May 12, Coffee Lessons

Barista Violet is my favorite person.

Amid the news that school has been delayed another week due to the Itaewon club virus outbreak, I can do nothing but keep going to work at an empty school.

That won’t stop me from buying coffee on days I arrive early!

I ordered an “extra size” latte and then attempted to tell Violet in Korean that I don’t want much milk:

“Umm.. the milk is few…? Small?” I tried, knowing she would catch me.

“You want me to make it with less milk?”

“Yes, how do I say that? Can you repeat yourself?”

She busied herself making an espresso and talked to me around the corner of the machine.

“When there is more coffee and less milk, you can say ‘please make it strong’.” She added “strong” in English to clarify.

“Okay so let me practice… ‘Please make it strong.’ But what do people who love milk say? Please make the milk strong?”

“You can say ‘please make it weak’.”

She asked me, “tender?” in English and I shook my head. The dictionary does give “tender” as a definition for 연하다, though, so I understand where that came from (although asking someone to “make coffee tenderly” is technically grammatically accurate the meaning is a bit different).

진하다 (strong ) < > 연하다 (weak)
~게 ~ly (adverb)

커피 진하게 해주세요. Please make my coffee strong [lit: please strongly make coffee for me]

We continued to chat as she added milk and ice to the espresso and handed over the final product.

“Please taste it. If it’s too strong I will add more milk.”

“That’s alright, I like the color so…”

I don’t get any effects from caffeine and “bitter” is one of my favorite flavor profiles so there’s really no coffee in existence that can be too strong for me but she just looked at me expectantly so I obliged, pulled down my mask, and took a taste sip.

“Yes, it’s good. Thank you.” I confirmed and we said our goodbyes as I headed out.

Violet made me think that among all the chaos, among any negative thoughts I have about the relentless boredom or frustration with this side of town, she is my shining beacon and exactly the type of person I want and need in my daily routine. This is the first time I’ve been a regular anywhere.

I’ve never had a barista who knows me but I have to say, it feels nice.

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