Coffee and Connectedness

I know it is not incredibly novel or surprising, but I love coffee. I love the smell, the warm feeling of the cup in my hand, the way in opens my eyes and wakes up my body each day. I’ve come a long way from my late-night Waffle House coffee-drinking days, but it still remains a staple in my life (coffee, that is…not Waffle House). A couple years ago, I acquired my first Chemex to prepare pour-over coffees. I’ve had my fair share of pour-over coffees made by others, but this has been an absolute game-changer for me.

The process for making coffee is decidedly more complex or time-consuming than a single-cup pod brewer or even a normal drip brewer. I measure the beans out on a small digital kitchen scale, grind them by hand with a burr grinder, heat up the water in my goose-neck tea kettle, and pour specific amounts of hot water over the grounds at certain intervals. What was once a clumsy and seemingly complicated process has now become my morning roasted ritual.

I was reminded of the significance of this time during Fr. Tim Schenck‘s presentation last evening on his new book, Holy Grounds: The Surprising Connection between Coffee and Faith – From Dancing Goats to Satan’s Drink. While there were some unique historical trivia about the origin of coffee and its connection with faith (like allowing monks to not fall asleep during night prayers!) I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about the many hands through which these sacred beans pass before they make it into my own. The pickers, the packers, the processors, the shippers, the distributors, the roasters, the retailers, and then my own. This, of course, raises many questions about ethical sourcing, work environments, safety, exploitation, and even climate change. No product we consume is immune to these questions, and I will be asking them anew.

Additionally, though, I left with a significant impression that I believe I will carry with me for some time. The labor and work that goes into each cup of coffee I drink is significant. Should I not also take the time with my own hands to craft something that is worthy of their work? And might I also take time to pray for those hands, with whom I am connected by means of this coffee? I am reinvigorated to make this time each morning a time of prayer and a recognition of our connectedness through something as simple and as wonderful as coffee.

In our prayer book, there is a prayer for agriculture that seems fitting:

Almighty God, we thank you for making the earth fruitful, so that it might produce what is needed for life: Bless those who work in the fields, give us seasonable weather; and grant that we may all share the fruits of the earth, rejoicing in your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP, 824)

May coffee continue to open our eyes, in all ways.


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