It was the ‘80s, when coffee shops and cafes weren’t commonplace as they are today. I’d only had espresso once before, a few sips with a bad boyfriend in Denver late one night, when he wanted to introduce me to this exotic drink. We walked from bar to restaurant in downtown Denver until he found one place that served it, a posh night club. We settled onto white leather couches and drank tiny cups of straight espresso, bitter like our relationship often was.
But here I was now, on a second date with this guy I’d just met through a personals ad. He’d called me the day after our first date, offering to drive across town in a blizzard to take me to a poetry reading I wanted to go to. I liked that idea, this friendly and funny guy willing to share my interest in poetry. After the reading, he took me to a café near the university, a place he frequented as a student. The café was called Giocco Café, an old place with a pleasantly worn, scrappy feel, wooden ice cream parlor chairs and round café tables. We came to meet a friend of his and play one of the many games stacked along a long wall shelf—that night it would be Scrabble.
But first, he took me to the counter to order a beverage. The overhead sign was full of café drinks I’d never heard of—latte, mocha, cappuccino. Lost at the strange menu, I turned to my date and asked him to recommend something. He paused a moment, then ordered me a café miel—espresso, milk and honey. It was perfect, creamy and sweet with the undertones and bite of the espresso. It seemed magical to me, to be in this new place with this new man, drinking this new drink that was as complex and delicious as this relationship would turn out to be…even 26 years later.
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I wrote this little memoir scene in honor of meeting my husband Bob for the first time 26 years ago on December 10. Today– the 11th– is 26 years since that first cafe miel… lucky me!