My new found friend Marcus (err he’s actually not new, it’s our friendship that’s new) challenged me to write a short blog on coffee as communion. In one of our many conversations – fueled by coffee – we touched on coffee’s stimulating effect on creativity. Marcus is an author and as all creative writers know, writers need all the stimulative help they can get. Well, that’s my read on the conversation anyway, and that is how the topic was formed.
As TS Elliot said:
“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons”
I think it is fair to say that without coffee there would have been no French Revolution, no enlightenment period, boring fiction, rhymeless poetry, illogical dissertations and meaningless coffee quotes.
My coffee journey began in my mid-teens. My mother would wake me for work every morning with a nice hot cup of coffee… In what I call my prehistoricoffee (that is, my coffee history before specialty coffee) I discovered the elixir of life. I think Gertrude Stein (novelist, poet and playwright) said it best:
“Coffee is more than just a drink; it’s something happening”
At the age of 17 I exchanged my mum’s coffee for army coffee. The sergeant would wake me every morning with a nice cup of coffee…. Oh wait, no he was the one yelling. My next adventure was within a sub-culture created specifically for coffee. I learned that to thrive as a military specialist, one must embrace fully the ways of coffee. Coffee in the army – though I do a disservice to coffee by naming the stuff that fizzed in hot water, coffee – was a staple especially when doing guard duty at night.
More than just a drink, a happening.
The next great breakthrough came when I met and married Lesley (Yes it was that quick). As was the custom then friends gave gifts to help set up the future home. This was in the times before the highly regulated process that is the wedding gift registry. This amazing new custom of showing guests what and how to give gifts would have saved us the pain of receiving not one but two high quality coffee brewers. Ahhh how the complexities of life have been overcome by the “sign-up”; that amazing process that removes stressful convolutions. The sign-uper receives daily expert opinion and direction omitting the need for tedious thought… but I digress!
The coffee brewer was for me a new concept. Coffee came in beans. Coffee used to be powder that fizzed when you drop it in hot water.
From this point on my coffee journey became an authentic quest that culminated with my becoming an artisan coffee roaster, a purveyor of specialty coffee drinks and a somewhat knowledgeable coffee guru. Which means, I know more than some and less than others.
As the T-shirt my grandkids gave me says:
Papa knows everything; if he doesn’t know he makes stuff up really fast.
At its most fundamental level communion is simply “an act of sharing”.
Has anyone suggested to you, “let’s grab a coffee and have a chat”? Walk into any good café and you will find, friends sharing life; business professionals sharing strategies; young lovers sharing intimacy; people sharing opinions; older couples sharing the silence of familiarity.
Whatever form or level of sharing, it is there on the table, unpretentious and non-intrusive yet actively involved, somehow unifying, inspiring and stimulating - coffee.
An amazing drink that helps create the perfect atmosphere – that is communion; that is coffee.