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Slow Coffee

I just came from “a taste of old Saigon”—on the west side of 13th East, believe it or not.

A glorious Indian summer afternoon called me away from the computer screen for fresh air and lunch. I ended up at Indochine, where I ordered Vietnamese coffee and a beef baguette. The sandwich was generous, spicy and full of flavor. And all the while I was savoring it, I watched my coffee brew.

That’s right. The coffee sits on your table and drips infinitesimally slowly through a small filter propped on top of a glass of sweetened condensed milk. Drop by espresso-chocolate-colored drop, the beverage of your dreams coalesces. You can almost begin to hear Carly Simon warble “Anticipation.”

Some twenty minutes later, after slurping every bit of the tender beef and crusty bread, and feasting on snatches of conversations about ribosomes, grant renewals, coding challenges and personnel decisions, the two-toned treat is ready. Stirring, the dark and light become a thick caramel richness that you then pour over a tumbler of ice.

Don’t hurry now.

Sip it. Through a straw. Relish the complex flavors, the composition, the surroundings. Dude. This is the way to finish a meal.

Outdoors, the sun is still ablaze in the autumnal blue sky, the air fresh and crisp. I am blocks away from my computer screen, but miles away—in old Saigon—in my head.

The next time you’re tempted to dash into a coffee store and plunk down three bucks for an over-roasted, over-heated beverage in a paper cup with plastic lid so you can schlep it in your right hand, cell phone in your left, across campus—think again. Good things come to those who wait.