Interpersonal relationships have always been characterized and consolidated by encounters between people. Shaking hands, looking at each other, an affectionate embrace or simply walking side by side: all apparently normal and common gestures, but which in these times tragically marked by the Coronavirus have unfortunately become more rare and difficult.
The recent health emergency has brought about many changes in our lives, so much so that it is natural to ask ourselves a precise question: “what can help us to keep the social fabric together and cohesive in the absence of the constant physical presence between individuals? Big changes often confuse us because they require us to change many of our activities or habits, quickly adapting them to a new and often uncertain scenario.
However, it is not only necessary to interrupt or change them, but rather to be able to adapt them in the best way to a different context, without distorting them or losing the beauty they bring. In other words, we should frame the dear and old habits through a different and innovative perspective, to keep their meaning alive through different dynamics or ways. The “coffee ritual“, a constant of Italian culture and the everyday life of almost all of us, is no exception.
Same ritual, new forms
Coffee is undoubtedly a fundamental element in our culture: considered a real social ritual, it has always been a symbol of “conviviality“. How many sealed friendships, how many loves are born and how many important contracts are signed (just to limit ourselves to a few examples) in front of a good cup of coffee!
With the new rules of social distancing, however, it would seem much more difficult to create moments of sharing accompanied by our favorite drink. And yet, this is not exactly the case: we can do it equally, even if in different forms! How? Keeping the right distances, as long as necessary, taking the necessary precautions, or for example with the support of social media and video calls, to continue drinking coffee in the company (even if at a distance) of friends, colleagues, family or acquaintances!
In short, we will be able to find many new ways to enjoy coffee in company, respecting the rules and public health: because the “coffee ritual” is something that belongs to us deeply, and nothing in the world will lead us to give it up!
Being together, even if at a distance.
Yes, in Italy coffee is much more than a drink and this is also reflected in art and culture. The great Eduardo De Filippo, for example, in “These ghosts” gives us a real “Lectio Magistralis” on the sacred ritual of coffee which he defines as “poetry of life“. His sharing of coffee preparation with balcony neighbors anticipated in some way what would actually happen in this pandemic period.
We sometimes cried, sometimes rejoiced, sometimes sang, sometimes chatted… But something was (almost) always present: the cup of coffee, or the scent emanating from the mocha on the fire that spread between windows and buildings. An ancient and rediscovered way of being together, of recovering the relationship with others, of living one’s time in a more sociable way, just when we are asked to stay away. “Let’s have a coffee together, even if at a distance” is in fact a phrase full of meanings, which go far beyond the taste and aroma of a drink – giving meaning to many moments of our lives.
For this reason I emphasize once again that it is not necessary to stop considering coffee break a moment of meeting. If we do not live it together by giving us a pat on the back or a kiss of greeting, it will be enough for us to transform it or adapt it – when necessary – to the new needs and forms of sociality, which the modalities of “being together” will require.
Coffee will always remain an excellent “excuse” to share time, to enrich our conversations or “break” the days of work and study, giving us moments of pleasure and union even from a distance…
A tradition to be protected, now more than ever.
I could not close this article without mentioning the Consortium for the Protection of Traditional Italian Espresso Coffee, which we at Danesi Caffè have been proudly part of since its foundation, whose primary objective is the recognition by UNESCO of traditional Italian espresso as intangible heritage of humanity, precisely as a distinctive, precious and special ritual.
Even in this period of emergency – which has put a strain on many commercial establishments and sometimes the same on habits of coffee lovers – the Consortium has in fact continued to carry out various activities, with the aim of promoting cultural and socio-anthropological contents of the Italian traditional Espresso Coffee Ritual by narrating them, supporting them, giving voice to Italian bartenders and their stories, presenting new initiatives born to overcome difficulties, and much more.
Coffee, there is no doubt, is something that gives not only taste and pleasure, but also a “sense of belonging“. In fact, its methods of consumption – however different along the whole peninsula – acquire the same ritual character everywhere, linked to special events and moments of our daily routine and our lives. A real intangible heritage, both personal and collective, which characterizes us as individuals and as people. Therefore, we always keep this special ritual alive, even if sometimes in new forms or contexts. Because the crisis – sooner or later – will pass, but the coffee ritual will always be with us. Indeed, part of us.