Hot Drinks ~ Maressa Mortimer


I do love coffee, as you might know, but I noticed a few things when watching people around me having hot drinks. Especially as writers, we should think about our favoured liquid. First of all, a lot of people reach for tea in times of need. Being Dutch, coffee has a calming effect on me, so in busy stressful times, it’s coffee you need, not tea. Tea is for when you’re poorly.

Mind you, that probably has something to do with the colour of the drinks as well. English tea is strong enough to be used as paint stripper. It comes with plenty of rituals and implements. Like a properly shaped teapot. It has to be just so, to let the air in as well as allow you to pour properly. Nobody likes a dripping teapot. After filling the pot with a handful of teabags and pouring boiling hot water on top (making sure the water has only boiled ONCE!), you cover the teapot with a tea cosy. Preferable one that has been hand-knitted by a great aunt or great-grandmother. Now the tea needs to stew, whilst you get the fine bone china cups ready, with a silver teaspoon. Plenty of milk, of course.

Now, coffee drinking visitors will also be looked after. The ritual isn’t the same though. Of course, you wouldn’t serve instant coffee, that’s too common. The only other option is a cafetiere. Scoop the coffee in, add hot water, and leave it for a bit. No fancy hand-knitted cosy in this case, not even an heirloom pot. Once it looks like brown water, you carefully pour the beverage into mugs. Or china cups, but not the best ones. There is plenty of milk, and you offer people sugar as well. The result looks like the washing-up water does after a large meal.

You see, that’s the difference. I don’t think many English people actually like the taste of coffee. It has to be made palatable with milk and sugar. Of course, tea comes with milk as well, unless you tell your host before the entire ceremony has started. That is merely because it’s better for your stomach and digestion. It’s also part of the ritual, not because people think tea too disgusting to be tasted properly.

In spite of all this, there are more and more cafes serving coffee in all kinds of formats. Before life went upside down, those cafes were ideal places for writers. There were nice sized tables, all kinds of hot drinks (usually it’s possible to get tea as well as coffee, sometimes even in its own little teapot. No hand-knitted cosy though), and there are large windows to gaze out of. People-watching is a huge part of being a writer, and doing it whilst sipping a large caramelatte is just perfect. The coffee taste is hardly noticeable under all the cream and caramel, but it’s hot and it fills you up, and it’s a great excuse for merely staring at life wandering by. Or eavesdropping on people’s life dramas being discussed at the table behind you.

Maybe that’s why coffee has taken over a little amongst writers, for pouring tea from your tiny private teapot whilst looking around and listening to real-life drama unfolding itself is much harder than simply sipping a large latte.

Do you disguise the flavour of your drinks? Of course, it’s possible to start the day with red wine in a coffee mug without anybody noticing...

My name is Maressa Mortimer, and I’m Dutch. I live in the beautiful Cotswolds, England, with my husband who is a pastor. We have four (adopted) children. I’m a homeschool mum, so my writing has to be done in the evening when peace and quiet descends on our house once more. I love exploring questions of faith using novels, as it helps me to see what faith looks like in daily life. My debut novel, Sapphire Beach, was published December 2019. My latest novel, Walled City, launched on December 5th, 2020, and I’m nearing the first draft of its sequel! And Viking Ferry, a novella, has unexpectedly been released at the end of March!

Visit my website to read my blog or to buy signed copies from my shop!


Umberto Tosi said…
Coffee and writing go together for me. In fact, I take most things I value with good coffee - and the quality of the coffee, as well as the type, have always mattered to me, growing up in Italian culture where the rituals of cafe are part of life's dance. I like my tea strong, the way the English drink it, but I'll always be a coffee man. The coffee I prefer to make at home these days each morning starts with a good medium-strong Arabica, mixed with sweetener (Splenda, for alas I cannot tolerate sugars anymore. This blend in a large, heated mug with a teaspoon of pure cacao powder, a dash of cinnamon, stirred vigorously with half boiling water and half coffee topped off with heavy cream.... sipped slowly.... aah...Welcome to our group. I look forward to reading your work, starting with Sapphire Beach, ....
Ruth Leigh said…
What a great piece to read, bleary eyed, pre hot beverage of any kind, Maressa. As a mix of English, Scottish and French, I was brought up on tea, made in a pot from tea leaves which were stored in a special caddy. We had a number of tea cosies. The posh, two layered embroidered one which went over the heirloom silver teapot for company, the slightly manky brown crocheted one for the little brown pot and a few in between. In the ancestral home, tea was was never made by dipping a teabag in a mug. Sacrilege! I do love coffee but don't drink it as much as I used to. The best I ever drank was in Spain, rich, flavoursome, fragrant. As soon as I make my first cup of tea of the day (boiling water, teabag, milk added last, no sugar), I will raise it to you and your day's writing.
Thank you, Umberto, that sounds just the way coffee should be treated! Thank you for your kind words!

I'll be raising my coffee to you, Ruth, once hubby has made mine! Those tea cosies do sound nice...
Wendy H. Jones said…
Great post and it has me wanting to dash for the beverages, I’ve just owned my eyes and not a beverage to be had as yet. Being Scottish, which means I am strong willed and plough my own furrow, I like both coffee and tea. The tea has to be strong enough to tar roads with, poured from a teapot and contain milk. Not a tea cosy in sight in my house though. They seem to have rather gone out of fashion. I love coffee of any ilk but preferably medium strength and with milk added afterwards, although I do enjoy the odd latte. I ah e 3 coffee machines none of which keep the coffee hot for more than 20 minutes as The government feels this is the best way to save the planet. I also use instant - the posh stuff of course.
Ruth Leigh said…
3 coffee machines? Why did we not know this, Wendy? One for each room? I trust you have a set of priceless porcelain cups and saucers to go with the gold cutlery.
I love this, Wendy! Three coffee machines, that's brilliant! And I admit, I do actually love instant coffee...!
Jan Needle said…
I obscenity in the milk of your hot drinks, as Hemingway once strangely put it. I've been longing for a pint of bitter for nearly a year now, and tonight I'm going to get one, in North Wales! Now THAT is happiness!
Eden Baylee said…
Great post Maressa, sorry I'm late.
I like coffee in the morning as a starter to my day, but that's the only time I drink it.
When I write during the day, it's usually just hot water or tea. Since I'm not a sweet tooth person, I don't add sugar.
Wine in the evening does help to wind down the day as I don't do much serious writing in the evening anyway.

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