Monday, February 6, 2017

Coffee Time

Coffee and time to write. What more to desire?
A brief article in The New York Times had me thinking about being meditative when brewing coffee. I’ve written before about my method for making the perfect cup of coffee. The Times piece is more about state of mind than method. It reminds me of listening to records: the coffee might not taste so much better, but I taste it much better.
Smell the grounds as you scoop. Notice how clean and clear the water is as you pour. Listen to the coffee brewing. Wait before pouring the first cup in order to appreciate the coffee you’re about to savor. Now pour, inhale deeply, watch steam rise, and then sip with intention. Taste and feel the coffee. Be in the moment rather than rushing through.
Contrast this with buying a cup at the drive thru. The car is running, the radio is going, and maybe the phone is pinging. You give money and take the paper cup then drive to work or some other commitment. On arrival you realize you’ve drunk half the coffee with no memory of it. You recall a crowded highway, the things you now must accomplish, and the desire for caffeine to get through this day.
Some difference.
The notion of enjoying coffee sounds good, but savoring the making of it? There’s so much to do. Our lives seem to  demand convenience and speed to always be moving toward the next thing. The habit of skipping this moment to rush toward the next is strong.
To make a new habit, I buy beans whole and grind them by hand. It takes two minutes per cup. I boil water as I grind. Lately, I close my eyes to focus on breathing and grinding. After I brew the coffee and before my first sip, I wash the press. My coffee requires seven minutes from first thought to first sip. And that first sip is good.
I’ve finished my cup and this talk of coffee has me wanting another. Making another requires engagement. Like some enlightened monk with her tea, when I make coffee I am making coffee. I don’t claim to be enlightened, but the process is enlightening if I slow down and am present to it.
Slowing down requires time I often feel I lack. But those seven minutes present in the process to the exclusion of everything else are refreshing and serene. And the coffee is better for my presence. I could be checking email, Facebook, or Twitter, but instead, check in with myself.
I feel my arm and hand crank the grinder, the friction of beans being crushed. I listen to the water rushing to a boil. I inhale the aromatic steam as I pour water over the grounds. I push the plunger and feel it push back. I listen to the coffee drip into my mug and savor the anticipation. Before my first sip, I’ve experienced so much. And like I said, that first sip is good.
Seven minutes. I’ve got time to make another cup. You want one?