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The Way of Coffee


The Way of Coffee

Paul Haworth

A Piece of Japanese Beauty

Something fantastic in Japanese culture is how philosophy and craft are so interrelated, it can be difficult to see where one ends and the other begins. This integration gives Japanese craft a sense of timeless heritage and transcendent value.

They have a word encompassing this marriage between heart and hand which is loosely translated into the English word 'way.' It is obvious from our weak translation that we do not really have the same concept here, but perhaps we should.

An Ailment

Here in the US, we are all desperate (whether or not we admit it) for a rhythm of connectedness between our hearts and our hands. Our culture is poverty stricken when it comes to this pulse, and so we marvel greatly at places like Japan where connectedness seems more commonplace.

Many of us are disembodied by the contrast between what we actually do and what we love. Just look at how we spend unconscionable amounts of money and time on hobbies that reveal our true callings. You might be thinking you need to consider a career change but, in the meantime, connect these dots in smaller ways.

The Way of Tea

Japan has embraced the Western (actually near-Eastern in origin, to be precise) practice of coffee on a small scale, but really the majority prefer tea. There is, therefore, a traditional 'way' of tea, which includes several styles of ceremony that all involve not only consuming but crafting and respecting the beverage on a very high level.

Typically not a daily ritual, these tea ceremonies would be a way of celebrating the changing of seasons or simply a way of connecting with a more contemplative Japan of the past. Every Japanese person has this reference point for tea and, on some unconscious level, this would be present whenever they are even casually making or drinking it.

A Way of Coffee

We are coffee drinkers. At first we may say there is no ceremonial anchoring for our daily coffee routine which offers this same sense of depth to our beloved beverage. But when you picture yourself truly enjoying coffee, what do you imagine? Perhaps it is your favorite mug, freshly filled from your best brewing device, complementing a morning fall read on your back porch. Or maybe it is an espresso beverage in your local roastery with a dear sibling, who is visiting from the other coast on holiday.

These images are vitally important. Every cup of every day should contain a little bit of these memories and ideas. If this is lost, the value of your coffee is diminished greatly. Not every cup needs to be an indelibly memorialized ceremony, but each should contain an echo of this ideal.

We obviously want you to learn to make your own coffee, if you are a coffee lover. Loving coffee is more than just enjoying what it tastes like. But, it is also more than enjoying the ability to craft it yourself. Beyond both of these is this sense of connectedness between heart and mind; past and present; and high ceremony and commonplace routine that brings immeasurable joy.