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Gratitude, Part 2

Wasn’t so long ago, I sat with condensation cooling my neck, coffee cup clutched, eagerly watching a man with a red beard behind the bar who trembled when he caught my eye. Wasn’t so long ago, under the tutelage of the same red-bearded man, I cupped my first coffee and reeled when I realized the Sumatra tasted exactly like red peppers from my parents’ garden, dirt included. Wasn’t so long ago my fair-haired daughter learned to walk by pulling up on burlap coffee bags in the shop where, a decade before, I’d had my first shot of espresso.

010 My life, like many whether in the coffee industry or outside it, can be measured in the sights and smells of coffee. Every morning for the 30+ years of their marriage, my dad has brewed a cup of coffee, added generous dollops of cream and sugar, and brought it to my sleepy-eyed mother to fuel her morning routine. Springtime, he’d add a flower from her garden. The specialty coffee shop made its appearance mid-90’s to us on a cross-country trip from Missouri to Montana, where on the recommendation of a trend-setting aunt, we ordered a vanilla latte and immediately set the bar much higher, and much sweeter. The family coffee intelligence took a strong step forward years later when I started my training as a barista in a now-defunct café in North Kansas City, and now my husband and dad end every visit with a home-roasting session, chaff blowing in the wind and dark falling as they profile and discuss.

IMG_4442I am grateful for coffee, because not only it is a majestic beverage, but because through it many of the best parts of my life have appeared. Through the ritual of its preparation and consumption, dreary moments take on new meaning. In fact, it took a cappuccino (breve) to spark this piece. Not only did I meet my husband and soulmate through coffee, but coffee sustains our relationship—cupping terms creep into our endearments, shared clients provide delight and amusement, and the wonder of it all keeps us engaged beyond simply going through the motions.

Coffee, and the people I’ve met through it, from the enfolded Black Hills of South Dakota to the sparkling beaches of San Diego, has functioned as catalyst for change and as grounding in tradition. I will never forget the couple we bought a rare amp from in Sioux City, Iowa, who shared a French press with us—and their lives—as the fleas raced up our legs and our hearts softened to embrace a new future that, so far, has us smack-dab in the heart of Coffee City, Oregon after a brief foray into the concrete jungle of LA. I’ll never forget that ritual moment of return to Kansas City, when we walk into one of the many cafes to which we claim allegiance, and are greeted with hugs and an eager shot of espresso. I’ll never forget the sheer nerves of throwing down latte art against international champions recently and getting thoroughly trounced—but coming away invigorated, with new friends and new respect for them.

I am grateful for coffee, and the people I have the privilege of knowing through it.


The post Gratitude, Part 2 appeared first on Caravan Coffee.


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