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April 6, 2014

Hot Chocolate

Acoustic Java, a cozy coffee shop on route to the Clark Bookstore, is home to the most delicious hot chocolate I have ever had. I believe it is made from 95% milk and 5% chocolate (in some form). The first time I went to Acoustic Java was at the end of winter break, and my interaction with the man at the counter flummoxed me. I ordered a small hot chocolate, and he asked me “What kind of milk do you want?” I stood there, dumbly staring at him, hoping that an answer would come to me. What kind of milk? Cow milk? It did not occur to me until after I responded with a hesitant “normal milk…” (which was met with a smirk from the counter man) that he was referring to whole milk, skim milk, etc. The man proceeded to ramble off a list of twenty different milk choices, most of which I had never heard of, so I went with ‘whole,’ the first and most regular sounding option. It was definitely the right choice. The hot chocolate was the perfect temperature–just short of scalding–consistency, and flavor.

The shop itself is small, but not tight. It is inviting, and the books that line the shelves underneath the counter create an old living room atmosphere. I enjoyed my first hot chocolate so much that I went back to Acoustic Java on a Saturday morning before a tech build. The second time, however, I bought a cappuccino and a blueberry muffin because I needed both caffeine and sustenance. Both were great. I was asked about signing up for some sort of Acoustic Java loyalty card, but I politely declined, simply stating that I wasn’t sure how often I would be there.

Sure enough, a couple weeks later, I excitedly led my friend and her visiting sister through the doors of this lovely little coffee shop. My friend and I ended up ordering hot chocolate, but only after I explained the milk system to spare her the same embarrassment I underwent. Now that I think about it, I am sure that basically everybody else is already familiar with the milk question, but at the time I thought I was doing her a favor. I sat and watched her take the first sip. She confirmed that it was indeed extremely delicious hot chocolate. A few minutes later, we decided that going to drink hot chocolate on Friday afternoons would be a new weekly tradition.

Photo from the official Acoustic Java website

I think that having new traditions, even though the semester is ending in a few weeks, speaks volumes about how much more settled I have become since arriving at Clark. At the beginning of my first semester, someone told me about Acoustic Java, but I never seriously thought about going there. My day-to-day life was made up of small, activities, like doing laundry, which qualified as routine rather than tradition. Now other things punctuate the routine–hot chocolate on Fridays, weekend walks around Worcester, going to Michael’s to look at beautiful art supplies on the free Saturday mall bus.

At the same time as creating new traditions, I don’t want to forget traditions (and routines) of my home-life. I used to have a cup of tea with my mom after school every day, followed by a walk with my dad and dog. When we lived in South Africa and went on road trips, we’d stop at the same gas station to get coffee, and would drink that and eat muffins in the car.

Because location is such a strong influence on what becomes tradition, I hope that over my next three years at Clark, there will be more hot chocolate Fridays to look forward to, and then remember years after graduation.

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