Why coffee isn’t just about waking up.
The shiny beans rattle down into the metal bowl and as they are hand-ground into a fine powder a strong rich scent of dark roast dances through the room. When finished, the freshly ground coffee is poured into the French Press, followed by recently boiled water, which fills it near the top. It is left to steep. The grounds rise to the surface of the steaming glass and are stirred in with the darkening water, leaving a foamy top. The lid slips over and filters out the grounds from the fresh coffee. Piping hot, it is poured into a mug, followed by a slow stream of half-and-half which billows like smoke. The ideal cup of coffee has been created.
I don’t drink coffee to stay awake; I drink coffee because I enjoy it. There is an art to it, a practice, something beautiful. It takes time and some dedication to create a very good cup of coffee, but it is one of the few areas in life where I think the extra morning time is worth it.
While coffee is frequently a throw-it-together-at-the-last-minute-so-I-can-stay-awake-today, there is more value to be found when time is taken. In making good coffee there is a process of waking up before you even begin to taste the energizing liquid. Peace and calm are present simply from the knowledge that you have a creative task before you. It may mean you have to wake up ten minutes earlier, but those ten minutes of peace can smooth out the rest of your day, better than the extra minutes of sleep or the rushed cup of joe. Humans were designed to create, and when we put work into something it has creative value, even a morning coffee.
One of my really good friends, who makes the best coffee I’ve had (she owns the hand-grinder that makes the perfect cup) has a very interesting take on coffee. She didn’t drink coffee until junior year in college, and when she did start drinking it, it was more of a side effect of making it for people. She liked to make coffee. It was something that showed appreciation for whoever received the treat but was also relaxing and enjoyable to make. It was a way to create, and in a college dorm room there is only so much room for creativity. A truly good cup of coffee is well within dorm practicality. It is a blessing one can both give and receive. When you put effort into something and make it beautiful it becomes a form of art and you are the artist.
While you hopefully will not see a coffee sitting on display in a museum, a well-crafted cup can offer an aesthetic experience that may not be far from that of standing in contemplation before a particularly well-crafted painting. Good coffee is obviously a simpler thing than fine art, but it can be art and can be enjoyed in more than just the moment. Do a thing excellently, and it will not be done in vain.