For the love of coffee: how I find my home in a cup of coffee wherever I go

Photo: Maliha Fairooz

“> For the love of coffee: how I find my home in a cup of coffee wherever I go

Photo: Maliha Fairooz

Saudade is Portuguese. In his 1912 book In Portugal, the Portuguese scholar Aubrey Bell describes saudade as “a vague and constant desire for something that does not exist and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present.” When I imagine the concept of a unique home, I feel a strong sense of saudade. I envy those who have a place they call home, a concrete place that binds them to a sense of identity and belonging.

My saudade-home is anchored in the memories of my life as a teenager in the early twenties in Dhaka. Spending my free time sitting with a hot cup of coffee in North End on winter nights, having hour-long addas with friends, playing cards and ludo, or sharing stories with cousins ​​in our lounge in Old Dhaka.

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Stolen moments, romantic rickshaw rides, a brief date in a North End cafe. I long for the warmth that these memories hold and I know, in my present, that I cannot find that warmth, outside, so far from all my loved ones.

On cold winter days in Germany, when all I long for is the warmth of my mother’s embrace, I seek comfort in the piece of home I carry with me to all the foreign lands I’ve lived in: comfort in a cup of North End. coffee. Chattogram beans to be exact, a product that is Bangladeshi through and through: lovingly grown, roasted and packaged for me by North End coffee roasters.

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Photo: Maliha Fairooz

“> For the love of coffee: how I find my home in a cup of coffee wherever I go

Photo: Maliha Fairooz

As Bengalis, our whole life begins and ends with a cup of milk tea. We sit in circles, weave stories and share memories – our “addas” are like no other. Circles of friends, relationships and lives are surrounded by addas. And for my generation, and perhaps for all subsequent generations with similar backgrounds, ‘dudh cha’ is becoming coffee. For me, the Portuguese saudade is softened by the Danish word “hygge”. Hygge captures the feeling of winter comfort that comes with family time and hot beverages.

Smells, tastes, and textures can be powerful memory triggers, instantly transporting us back to certain moments in our lives and the emotions we feel. When saudade resurfaces and all I want is to recreate those memories, through the smell of fragrant beans, the smooth and earthy taste of foamy latte.

I recreate my own hygge, grind fragrant North End beans, and make a piping hot almond milk cappuccino that will soothe my soul on a dark, cold winter’s day in Berlin. Every sip of this drink is a reminder that I can somehow be in two places at once, bringing a taste of home with me wherever I go in the world.

With a cup of coffee in hand, I sit in front of the screens and call my cousins ​​in Bangladesh and recreate those addas by sharing cups of coffee. Facing various beautiful backgrounds from around the world, I share my travel stories with them and remember that feeling of home we shared half a lifetime ago.

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We remember songs by Stoic Bliss or Fuad and Mila. We laugh at the funny outfits we would wear in the name of fashion and retell stories of the many addas in cafes before or after shopping. Some would say it’s just a cup of coffee, but it’s not. It is a memory, a story, a thread of stability and a sense of hygge that has connected me to my homeland through taste and smell for almost half my life.

When the world feels strange, cold and distant, and I feel saudade running through my soul, the power of this single cup of coffee is unsurpassed in its ability to lift me up and place me in familiarity and warmth.

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