Coffee is science.
Or at least I’d like to think it is.
Coffee is turning over one stone and knowing the entire forest.
Coffee is the process of cobbling together the bigger picture by studying each one of its parts. It is physics and it is the universe coalescing into a series of discrete, observable experiences.
Coffee is an affirmation that everything is interlinked.
Coffee is a quest and it is an obsession. Coffee is also the neverending attempt to figure out my place in the world, to find the place where best my talents can be put to use.
Coffee is chasing the beautiful. To some people’s annoyance. To some people’s appreciation. These are the people also chasing the beautiful.
Coffee is service, and it is a bootcamp. Coffee was a hell of a way to take a sheltered 22-year-old and start turning him into a decent human being.
Coffee is grace and patience and telepathy. What would you like today?
Coffee is being the bigger person—for even after you are conditioned you will kowtow to grumpy people, and to entitled people, and to people who may be acting littler than you—as you silently hate them—and they may never know, but it is always up to you to act with humility and to revel in this knowledge of grace.
Coffee is delicious. Coffee is amazing.
But coffee is bitter, too, or smoky or rancid or dirty-tasting. Coffee is separating the wheat from the chaff on so many levels; the process of chiseling away the marble to reveal the statue underneath.
Coffee is striving for the Platonic ideal.
Coffee is repetition. Repetition, repetition, repetition. But so is everything in life, if you care about it. Coffee is reliving the same tired interaction, reaching for the same milk pitcher, whirling it for the millionth, billionth, or trillionth time, who knows, until you notice only the mistakes—the bubbles caused by an errant wobble of hand which stand there in your jug like personal insults, refusing to be stamped out when smacked against the countertop, making their way all the way into the final cup where they stand there like zits as you slide it across the counter to your customer, who loves it. Only you can see.
Coffee is a million imperfect rosettas. Or tulips, or hearts, or swans. . . .
Coffee is becoming more perceptive. It is learning to feel thermal energy by intuition and then by touch where most people would see only form and object; it is smelling sweetness and inferring strength and extraction; it is analyzing every experience within a certain category and placing that experience within a matrix of comparative experience so you can know it better—it is the reshaping of your own mind, which you may come to think of as insane.
Coffee is searching for a tribe. When nomads find you, travelling from abroad, you are elated.
Coffee is a stimulant.
Coffee is finding yourself in the midst of a long-running joke, which is hilarious—coffee is suddenly realizing you are an engaging, magical being entwined in an epic tale of endless entertainment. After years of this you start to wonder if you are being annoying, if the tale’s run its course; if it’s as funny to everyone else as it is to you.
Coffee is mopping at max speed—coffee is finding an outlet (any outlet) for the excess of your energy.
Coffee is jumping over a railing onto a raised landing from the downhill side after taking out the trash because ESPRESSO said to do it, and then thinking to yourself immediately afterward that you should probably never to that again if you want to live.
Coffee is ripping open grainy bags of coffee grinds for the compost bin because the city program only collects certain materials and then throwing away the torn plastic bags with your hands absolutely covered in it as you look up at the pink clouds at 6AM, sighing—your friends (who are all younger than you) are hanging out having a smoke, and you think that maybe they ought not to do that and wonder why they’re even awake this early, they’re nineteen—and then you sigh again and look at the glowing orange clouds, hands full of garbage, and file it all away for later—
Coffee is smelling like coffee, 100 per cent of the time, and feeling disgusted by it later; the smell, the feeling, everything, revolted.
Coffee is lying in bed, after closing, absolutely wired, thrashing, and knowing that you had too much and you’ll regret it later, in the morning, because no way you’ll be rested again by the time you have to open; but there’s always coffee, pushing all that exhaustion away again to some indefinite time in the future, unforeseen, blurry, weird method of procrastination.
Coffee ensures, if you’ve done it right and if you are of a particular age, that you have friends/coworkers with whom you can go out to drinks with afterwards, makeshift reservoir for all this latent energy, and pretty fulfilling, besides. Coffee also means, in this regard, inevitably developing raging incestuous crushes on these people who you see every day—again, if you are a certain age, say college student or recently-graduated college student—but who knows how these things would’ve turned out, and why not try?
Coffee is getting skinny, working your ass off (literally, for me), and wearing the consequences of your decisions for all to see.
Coffee is aging, plain and simple. Coffee means headaches. Malnutrition affects every human being, to an extent; did coffee play a part in your inevitable demise? Did coffee have a hand in your varicose veins, your thinning hair—has it stressed your glandular system beyond repair and permanently skewed your brain chemistry? Will it all heal, if you ever stop? Or would all these things, this stress and damage, have come round for you regardless, even if you hadn’t chosen to live this life of artificial magic? If you hadn’t turned out to be the person who you are?
Coffee is addiction.
But coffee is also the power of routine and consistency, anchoring you to reality.
Coffee is sobriety, paradoxically. The next morning. It is contemplatively grinding your beans, examining your shiny kitchen counter with the whole day ahead of you, in possession of all your senses and feeling good or good enough—and wondering, with clear mind and open heart, where the day will bring you next.
Coffee is the morning ritual incarnate.
Coffee is an all-encompassing and comprehensive medium, for those who drink coffee. It is salvation on a dire day and celebration on an exuberant one and a tool to get to know someone and a crutch that thrusts you into life, directly into life, and demands that you show up and live it—sweaty, nervous, stimulated; yourself. Coffee is everything; it is God and it is the personality of man pushing forward, pulsing radially out like blood and heartbeat, circulation, devoid of overarching plan but adamant nonetheless. Tingling, prickly driving force of life—we can’t explain and yet we do it anyway, filling up the channels laid before us, diffusing.
Coffee is metaphoric, though just a bean, organic matter, ground all to dust, like we’ll eventually be, and chemically activated: just add water. Coffee is a cause and effect, a rise and fall, a discrete process with defined beginning and end; energy to be unlocked, used up, dissipated. It is indispensable, and it is love, when all goes right—just like our lives. Just like us.