Lessons from a barista

This morning I went to my usual coffee shop to see the dynamic duo that always bring a smile to my face – even when it’s before 7am!

I mentioned I’m keen to learn how to make coffee and asked my barista how long he’s worked for, if he took a course, etc. I’ve been told some companies in Brisbane are better than others and I’m trying to suss out which is the best choice for me before we head overseas and I can apply my new espresso experience. From what I’ve seen, many places could do with a good Aussie flat white, long black or latte.

What happened next is a typical occurrence in my everyday life. Sometimes you only need ask the question, for someone to be willing to show you the answer.

He invited my behind the counter where he told me you should always wipe the grounds out of the handle before getting your coffee grounds. He let me smell the beans to show how fresh the roast was. He showed me how many flicks you need to pull a good amount of coffee grounds, evening the coffee with a tamper before running the machine. He even gave me tips on timing and volume for the best espresso extraction.

© Amy Lynch

Et voilà! I am now that much closer to beginning my barista career.

On accents

© Amy Lynch
© Amy Lynch

I am from Canada, the part that borders on Quebec, yet I don’t speak fluent French. My husband is Irish and we have been living in Australia for the past three years.

While I have never been mistaken for a French-Canadian, I have been asked if I am from New Zealand, America, England and Ireland. People in Ireland think I’m American. People in Australia have asked if I was all of the above, only sometimes asking me if I am Canadian. Last night at the hair salon, my husband stopped by and the stylist thought he sounded like me – American. Thankfully, most people understand me and all of the exchange students I’ve met since moving to Brisbane have told me quietly they love how easy it is to comprehend what I am saying. It’s nice to know that Scandinavians and South Americans alike can relate to you.

Some days I long for conversations with friends, family or perfect strangers I could meet in Canada that understand me and don’t pause to ask, “are you ______?” Other days I think that by the time I go back to Canada (for a visit or a move) that I will sound different anyways. All of my recent visits have been interrupted with jokes about my new Aussie slang or an Irish turn of phrase. The most popular is my new way of indicating the time, instead of half-past four, I now saw half-four. Thank you Ireland.

We are going traveling in a few months and once we relocate again I can only imagine the future accents I will be associated with. I am learning to embrace this recently mandatory part of my discussions with new acquaintances and am convincing myself it is part of me becoming a worldly person.

One of the nicest compliments I’ve received as of late was from a lovely English man at a friend’s birthday party who told me I spoke “with an intelligent accent”. I will take that any day over all of the above!

New Year, New York

“I love New York, even though it isn’t mine, the way something has to be, a tree or a street or a house, something, anyway, that belongs to me because I belong to it.” ― Truman Capote

While I work by day, I often look at my New York City Information Guide to Subway and Elevated Lines mouse pad, thinking of the time I spent a whirlwind 48 hours in the Big Apple with four girlfriends in a hostel in Central Park West on a chilly February weekend. I stepped out of work at the daily newspaper I was working at that Friday afternoon, to join my other two friends as we hopped on a bus from Ottawa traveling through Montreal, Albany and finally arriving in New York City on a Saturday morning at the crack of dawn for our first Subway ride, complete with scurrying rats.

© Amy Lynch
© Amy Lynch

We were visiting another girlfriend who was interning for a few months, living in Brooklyn and really, living the dream. We explored Manhattan, Ground Zero, Chinatown, Fifth Avenue, Central Park, headed to see Chicago on Broadway and spent one wild night at Hogs & Heifers in the Meatpacking district – you know, the one they based the movie Coyote Ugly on.

So you can imagine my enthusiasm at the fact that once my new Irish hubby and I head north in a few months, we will only be a short six-hour flight from NYC! We’ve both been to the big city but on separate occasions (months apart), a full year before we met while he was working in Canada. We can create new memories together and with friends from Canada and Ireland on our next cross-Atlantic trip to the Big Apple we’re so fond of. Until then, I will be avidly reading the Cup of Jo Guide to NYC.

Rainy days

© Amy Lynch
© Amy Lynch

It’s been quite a bit rainy here in Brisbane, which is all well and fine by me. Plants need water to grow, it can’t be summer in the sunshine state year round.

However, it does get to me when this early morning rain, fog and mist causes me to get ready in my full corporate wear, trench coat and all ready to seize the day – only to be absolutely roasting by the time I get to the bus stop! It’s days like these when I think cooler temperatures wouldn’t go astray in winter Down Under. At least I could settle into a cosy pub or a nice cafe while sporting stylish layers (and my perfectly matte, cool and calm complexion).

It still makes me laugh at the irony of it all every time I spot someone sporting their oh-so-trendy faux fur vest/hat/coat in Brisbane. If they really think this is winter, then they are in for some surprise on their next Euro-trip!