The Coffee Experience
Danny Singh, UK
Danny Singh, born and raised in London, has been living in Rome, Italy for the last 18 years, teaching predominantly adults working in companies, Politicians etc. He attends Pilgrims TT courses almost every summer as a Guest Speaker. His philosophy on teaching and learning can be summed up by the following: “Who dares to teach, must never cease to learn”. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
My daily coffee experience
Your personal coffee experience
This is a multi-sensorial approach to drinking coffee. As a teacher, you can use it with your students to stimulate their minds and awaken their senses. As a normal human being, you should find it an immensely gratifying experience to try out with your friends. Those of you who feel that one coffee is exactly the same as another, that one wine is pretty much the same as another and that all beers taste the same, may well be sceptical about this article. Those of you who believe that a coffee made by a different person in the same place will taste exactly the same, could well be bemused by what you are about to read. Those who believe that the pleasure of coffee exists only in the tasting of it will find sections of this article extremely frustrating. Those who dislike coffee intensely will understandably be hard pressed to read and enjoy this article.
I only ask that you give it a go and if you find coffee that disgusting, try substituting it with another drink that you enjoy. I am taking it for granted that coffee lovers who enjoy it in all its multi-sensorial forms, will find this experience incredibly uplifting. I hope that it will open up all your minds to the unlimited pleasures that a coffee may bring. So, without further ado, let’s move on.
I have the good fortune or misfortune depending on your point of view, to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world: Rome. Numerous visitors to this unique city, irrespective of their origins, list it as one of their favourite cities in Europe. If on the other hand, you ask the opinion of a typical Roman from the suburbs, they may well complain about all the infrastructural problems, the increase in the cost of living, the huge number of tourists that make mobility around the centre so difficult, not to mention the everyday traffic chaos.
My daily coffee experience begins with my journey to work. I head down the most inappropriately named road (Via Mozart), skipping around an array of electrical and hardware goods scattered all over the pavement, as I make my way to the nearest metro station. This street is full of council houses, inhabited by poor, unfortunate people who generally don’t work. They periodically use their street as a rubbish tip, despite the fact that there is a well-known recycling centre just five minutes away.
As you exit the metro at Colosseo station, you see before you the immensity of this great building. If you look around, you will see the incredulous faces of tourists, who remind me of why I still live in this amazing city, contrasting with the stressed faces of the local commuters who wait impatiently for their buses. My bus takes me along the Fori Imperiali with thousands of old stones, past Piazza Venezia with its imposing Vittorio Emanuele building towards Piazza Argentina.
I generally prefer to leave the bus at this point and stroll towards my final destination, the Senate, where the first of my daily students patiently awaits my arrival. It’s a five-minute walk, which takes me past the Pantheon and into the narrowest of lanes before I emerge into Piazza Eustachio, which contains one of the most famous coffee bars in Rome. Notwithstanding the speed at which I race to get to my lesson, I cannot but help inhaling the aroma of this amazing coffee. The aroma can be detected, not just inside the bar, nor only in the square, but even inside nearby buildings.
Impatient tasters among you will be wondering if I’m ever going to get to the point. Well, my dear friends, on most days I have to settle for the pleasure of the aroma. In the unlikely event of me arriving ten minutes early, or of an extremely late cancellation, I can treat myself to the taste of this exceptional coffee. However, it is more likely that I’ll end up in this bar with the student as part of the lesson itself. The preparation of this coffee involves mixing a little sugar with a small amount of the coffee to create a creamy foam, which is then added to the coffee. It is the only time I ever allow sugar to enter my cup, as I normally enjoy my coffee strong, pure and bitter, but this one is a unique experience.
This is the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Wherever you are, just take a deep breath and follow my instructions. Picture your ideal coffee! Focus on the cup! Is your coffee in a small espresso-style cup, a medium cup or large mug? Is it perhaps even in a glass? Is there any kind of design on the cup? Is there a saucer under the cup? Now think about the coffee! Is it dark and strong, or light and weak? Does it contain milk or cream? Does it contain sugar or is it totally bitter? What colour is it? Is it steaming hot, warm or cold? What about the sound of the coffee, as it’s being prepared? Is it served in an espresso coffee machine or is it filtered? Is it made from freshly ground coffee beans or is it a powdered instant coffee? Are you having something with your coffee? A biscuit? A chocolate? A piece of cake? A cigarette?
Now think of your surroundings! Are you in the kitchen, in a coffee bar or in a restaurant? Are you sitting or standing as you prepare to take your coffee? Who are you with? Are you alone with your coffee, with your family, with a group of friends, or with one special friend? What time of day is it? Is it early morning, late morning, after lunch, late afternoon, evening or even last thing at night?
Now raise your cup to your lips and take a sip. Enjoy the taste of your coffee! Savour this moment for a few seconds, then put your cup back down. Do your fingers smell of coffee? When you are ready to return to reality, please do! Now share your coffee experience with your partner, describing it in intimate detail. Alternatively, why not drop me a line and describe your coffee experience in words!
If you try this exercise with your students, you’ll find that each experience is unique and individual. I have done this activity, which I created myself, several times and the amazing thing is that each time, my personal coffee experience differs enormously. It is never exactly the same.
This activity uses a process known as “Imaging”. It is a very simple multi-sensorial process used by imaginative teachers all over the world. I was able to create the coffee experience with relative ease, as coffee is one of my great passions. To create a multi-sensorial experience of your own, simply select something that you feel deeply passionate about, use this process of imaging and enjoy yourself.
There are hundreds of different ways of experiencing coffee. Those of you lucky enough to wake up in the warmth and comfort of your bed, as the aroma of coffee wafts in from the kitchen are starting your day in one of the most sensual ways. Spare a thought for those of us less fortunate, who rarely encounter this sensation, as we either sleep alone, or wake up alongside partners who insist on spending half the day in bed! Regardless of the ways in which you normally experience your coffee, I hope this article has given you more insight into how multi-sensorial activities can significantly increase the pleasure of any experience.
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Please check the NLP for Teachers course at Pilgrims website.