I worked in local coffee shops for a few years before I realized how special it was. I got into the industry because it seemed like a good way to meet people and connect. Coffee shops breed community and I figured that was the best they had to offer. But as my passion for brewing good coffee grew, I began to see how such a small thing could teach me so many unexpected things.
How making a good cup of coffee helps me to rest
Brewing good coffee means you don’t get to set a timed machine to be ready when you wake up. It takes effort, labour, and will-power. I know that if I used a regular coffee maker, I could sleep an extra thirty minutes every day. I don’t need to wake up until 7:00 o’clock, so why choose to get up at 6:30?
It gives me rest.
I take a few minutes before all the chaos of the day, and I experience the morning begin slowly with the sunrise. I sit, and I breathe, welcoming the day in rather than rushing to keep up with it. I didn’t realize how little I slowed down in my day until I implemented this ritual. With 24/7 news, twitter, emails, work, projects, friends, marriage, church, volunteer work, meetings, and everything else that goes on, I never really knew how to just take a moment and wait.
Coffee taught me how to do that. In fact, it forced me to. It takes 10 minutes just to warm the water up. Right before it boils, I grind the beans so they’re as fresh as possible, and I start the five-minute brewing ritual. Once brewed, I watch the steam rise from the cup as it cools. It too takes its time, but I am in no hurry. I enjoy my morning and sip when it’s ready.
A good brewing method requires practice and discipline
Brewing a good cup takes practice. You’ve got to get all the nuanced flavours from the beans. The bitterness can’t linger for too long in the back of your throat after you swallow. That doesn’t happen on the first try. You need proper equipment, water temperature, grind size, bean to water ratio, and a steady hand. You have to keep a consistent pour and hit the right numbers in the right amount of time. It requires practice and discipline.
When someone commits to brewing good coffee, that means they are willing to take the time to do it well. It means they focus on the process instead of just the destination. The automated world has made it so easy to skip over the process. You want something done? Just hit a button and it’s finished. Keurig does it for coffee, but it happens with bills, banking, shopping, dating even. Even churches are trying to tap into this inconvenience-free world of destination over process.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the technology we have, but sometimes I need the discipline of the process. I need to put the work into doing something crafted and unique. I don’t want it all automated. Friends of mine tend to laugh about how much effort I put into it. They say that the end product is no different than what a Keurig offers: a cup of coffee, and they’re right. Practically, we both drink the same thing, but I don’t want to lose that discipline, that rhythm, that process. I’m not ready to automate everything. Not yet.
The best coffee helps us to be thoughtful consumers
The beans that end up on my counter come from various countries in Africa, Central America, or Asia. They are farmed and processed in their home countries from people who have perfected their agricultural craft. They also want no automation. They pick the coffee cherry by hand before they wash it, process it, and ship it off to the roaster.
Once the roaster gets the coffee, they use their expertise to take a dried-out bean and turn it into the delicious beverage so many people drink around the world. The package and ship it, so I can buy it from a coffee shop or an online retailer. From there it is my responsibility.
See, all this effort goes into each and every cup of coffee we drink in the morning, but the farmers and the roasters often get overlooked, forgotten even. Brewing good coffee gives people a chance to stop and remember all the hands that helped create the cup they’re drinking. We become advocates for these other workers, respecting their hard work by putting in our own. It unites us with the men and women all over the world who started the process before us. It’s a small way to remind ourselves that we are not alone and that people work together in many ways without ever realizing it.
Coffee can teach about what it means to love one another
Most mornings I share a cup with my wife. I get to wake her up with a little gift, offer her something to start her day. I carry on the tradition, started by the roaster and the farmer, of handing the coffee off to someone else. I get to serve it, deliver it, and contribute something to another person.
We can easily miss the little things that teach us something or connect us to one another, but little gifts like that are all around us. In such a distracted, automated world, we just move right past them. Implementing simple routines like brewing good coffee can help train us to see these little moments. They fight against the distraction, the automation, the noise. We must cultivate these habits that teach us to leave room for unexpected things.