Is your coffee worth experiencing?

A guest post by Pete Hitzeman

I can’t do much else when I’m drinking good coffee.

When I was a kid, I remember that my Mom was famous for never finishing a cup of coffee. It’s actually how I got started drinking coffee in the first place. She’d make a cup of Folgers Instant, drink two or three sips, and then set it down to go about the business of taking care of a home, a husband, and four kids. Inevitably, there would end up being a half-consumed, lukewarm cup of coffee laying around that I eventually started sampling (shudder).

At work, restaurants and elsewhere, abandoned cups of half-consumed coffee are a regular sight. People start them and get bored, or distracted, or otherwise just don’t want the rest. (The same thing is common with beer, come to think of it, and I suspect it’s for many of the same reasons.)

But I’ve noticed that I just can’t seem to replicate that scenario. When I drink coffee, that’s pretty much all I’m doing.

Seems counter-intuitive, right? Coffee is the perfect social beverage. It naturally lends itself to conversation, concentration, creativity and, generally, action. But so often, when I pour myself a cup of freshly roasted, just-ground, French-pressed Sumatra from my brother’s roastery, I can’t do much else but sit down and thoughtfully drink it.

Sure, I can write something, or have a quiet conversation with a friend, but those things become merely accessories to the experience of the coffee, rather than the other way around. Good coffee is dimensional. It tells a story with every sip, and the ending, at the bottom of your mug, is every bit as good as the first sip. It’s not just worth your attention, it grabs it with intense opening paragraphs, stirring plot lines, and compelling characters. Conversing over a cup of coffee becomes (at least until it’s gone) a lot like reading a book with the radio on.

We’ve all been at a good restaurant with good friends. The conversations and laughter are almost deafening, and the group is as boisterous as the proverbial three ring circus. But when the main course comes, there’s a sudden hush. The first bite of the carefully prepared, expertly cooked entrees seems to take each patron by surprise, and suddenly their focus is on nothing but the artistry laid out before them, until it’s done. Conversations and debates, however passionate, are abruptly abandoned.
If the coffee is good enough, such is the experience of drinking it.

If your coffee doesn’t compel you to stop, sit down, and experience it, maybe it’s time to ask why. And maybe it’s time to buy a pound from your local nano-roaster, and find out what I’m talking about.