coffee

there is something to be said for the comfort of ritual. it makes hard things easier, new things less scary, and can often make bad things just a little bit better.

one of the rituals that most of us recognise, even if not all of us partake in, is coffee. there is something about coffee that people seem to respect. being late to work because you were getting coffee is generally an accepted excuse. in kind, excusing yourself from work to get a coffee rarely brings unwanted attention. some offices have their own coffee machines, around which employees share parts of their day. old friends will meet for coffee, and there’s a little bit of magic in that: everyone knows they are meeting for each other, not coffee, but the comfort in the ritual brings them closer.

there’s something to be said for making coffee too. i’m a qualified barista, but sometimes being a barista feels more like being a psychologist. i remember when i used to work coffee stalls at events which were less than busy, people would tell me all kinds of things about their lives while i made their coffee. who they were, what they were doing, what’s keeping them up at night. by the end of it, i sometimes felt like i knew more about their life than i did mine.

you can tell the character of a person, too, by the way they order their coffee. it’s a small thing, but the way you speak to me when i’m taking your order or making your coffee says a lot about you. some people think i’m a robot. and for them, i am. i’ll make your coffee exactly the way you told me to, and you will take it, and go away, and i will never see you again. some people treat me like a person, others treat me like a friend. it’s an interesting microcosm of personalities, working as a barista.

there’s more still to be said about the making of coffee. setting up the machine, getting all your implements out in order so as not to waste time and burn the coffee, adjusting the grind for optimal percolation, texturing the milk so it’s j u s t r i g h t , a bit of latte art on the top because #wefancy and then finally, after it’s all done, you get to sit down and enjoy the fruit of your rewards. even making coffee for others can be rewarding, because if you do it right, you know they’re enjoying it as much as you have.

i think we can all learn something from the art of coffee and all its different aspects. i think we can all learn something about connection, closeness, subtlety, attention to detail, comfort, ritual, communication and maybe just a little bit about life… if we pay attention.

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