When the world went crazy Lesley (my chickee-babe for life) and I were stuck. We were about to head down under to get our business visas renewed. Overnight our wings were clipped – airlines shut down, travel ground to a halt. Governments shut down businesses and offered financial aid to those laid off from their jobs. Not for us. We were a couple of Aussies, alien dwellers.
So, we hunkered down and kept Essence open. We reduced everything down to what we could manage ourselves. No kitchen, no table service, just two Aussies, pre-made food to-go and freshly roasted Coffee.
In case you didn’t know, Essence of Coffee is an ‘essential’ service. When life is ‘normal’ the coffee house can be taken for granted, but it is always there, unpretentiously supporting life, the universe and everything in it.
But when the vagaries of life attack, you know, the car has a flat tire, the dog bites the cat, the neighbor mows the lawn too early or the world gets shut down by a corona virus, that’s when the coffee house becomes a beacon of light.
Arriving at Essence is like wandering through the desert, cresting a sand dune and finding a 5-star resort hotel, complete with swimming pool and a bevy of skilled servers waiting to comply with your every wish.
Alright, maybe I exaggerate but the word covid made life seem crazy. The first few weeks were a little surreal but after a while we began to long for a return to normal. This is not what life is. We are a social people, created with five sense through which we interact with a vibrant living world. Though electronics and social media may have helped with the boredom of isolation, the inner desire for meaningful interaction, to meet with real people in real life setting became a craving.
Venturing (or sneaking) out was an apocalyptic experience. Streets isolated, businesses shut down, occasional essential services displaying the only sign of life in a sea of desolation. Heading down deserted streets until – boom – Essence of Coffee.
Seriously! How safe is society without a sound caffeine distribution system? Not talking about instant fizzy stuff, or burnt, bitter liquid that demands syrups, whose best intent still fails to cover the destruction of coffee… such ‘coffee’ is like social media, it has the pretense of relationship but ultimately leaves an empty void.
I’m not sure why a siren would be associated with coffee, but it makes the point. The mythological sirens of the ocean called out to sailors with euphoric promise but delivered shipwreck. That’s my take on bad coffee.
Why is the humble coffee roaster and his coffee house an essential service?
As TS Eliot said, ‘I have measured out my life with coffee spoons’.
Nothing really set up the day like watching the sun rise with a coffee in hand sitting out front of the café. Nothing has produced more scholarly results that buckets of coffee consumed over study. Business deals signed, problems solved, riots quelled or fermented, relationships strengthened, all energized by coffee.
In the words of many of those who crept out to grab coffee, “It’s nice to talk with someone who is not my children or my partner”. Yes, the unpretentious cup of coffee is an essential part of life… accompanied, prepared and offered by the unpretentious – though probably cheeky – Aussies who kept it flowing.
Ahhhh the serenity!