Coffee con Leche: Stop Staring at My Coffee Thermos

Coffee con Leche: Stop Staring at My Coffee Thermos

Bebe Bakhtiar HeadshotSo, just before I moved to Spain from the USA, I worked as a full-time high school teacher, master’s student, and basketball/softball coach. Needless to say, my world revolved around coffee more than Donald Trump revolves around Donald Trump. I was definitely THAT teacher who had her thermos on her desk in the mornings, refilled it at lunch, and then had one more in the afternoon before my evening classes. Clearly, health wasn’t one of my objectives at the time.

Anyway, I embodied this when I moved to Spain. I brought my caffeinated to-go lifestyle and my favorite thermos to the peninsula. Within the first few days of my commute to work, I started to realize something… people were always openly staring at my thermos. At first, I thought it was jealousy; after all, my thermos did say I’M A BOSS on it. Finally, after the days of stares, I decided to ask a friend. And by friend, I mean a co-worker because I still didn’t know any Spaniards.

Me: “Can I ask you a quick question?”
Coworker: “Yes, of course.”
Me: “Why do people stare at my thermos? Is it me?”
Coworker:Spaniards don’t really take coffee ‘to-go.’ It isn’t our lifestyle. If you don’t have time to sit and enjoy your café, then you just don’t have time for coffee.”

Changing Perspectives, and Not Just a Coffee Thermos


Well. Maybe I was receiving stares because I personally had plastered, “I’M NOT FROM ‘ROUND HERE” on myself. I actually had to think about this concept, though. Para llevar, or ‘to-go’ in Spanish, isn’t really a thing? My whole life is para llevar. I mean, if I’m not drinking my coffee on the go, I’m probably eating my breakfast on the go, or putting on my make up on the go (which, ladies, 9 times out of 10 this is just a horrific idea). The more I thought about what she told me, the more I started to internalize it.

Let’s think about it: It’s essentially the Spanish way of saying, “stop and smell the roses.” Maybe it was time I stopped and smelled the café. How have I not had the opportunity to sit down and enjoy my own coffee for 10 minutes in a whole day? Life shouldn’t be taken para llevar. Life should be stopped and enjoyed. Every moment savored, every sensation taken in. That’s the Spanish way, and you know what? I haven’t brought that thermos around in months. Is it because I broke it, or because I’m happily slowing down my busy life? Who knows.

Either way, the Spaniards have taught me a life lesson — take time for yourself to enjoy the simple pleasantries of life.

**What I’m saying to the people who used to stare at me is, ain’t gonna catch me on a metro with a to-go thermos again, how ‘bout dat?

by Bebe Bakhtiar

3 thoughts on “Coffee con Leche: Stop Staring at My Coffee Thermos

  1. And your blog is a nice “para llevar”. Anything better to read omw home? Don’t think so!

    I forgot to read this before but now I’m def subscribed. The way you speak about it. The way you let us know how you felt it and feel it. The way your life is not “para llevar” any more.

    Ma’am this is so fckin’ inspiring. We haven’t shared or speak a lot, we don’t know each other a lot, but dude. I can tell “de mayor quiero ser como Bibi”.
    And I’m def gonna stop, sit and enjoy my coffee.

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