My morning cup. Black coffee. Simple, right?
There’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye.
This coffee was roasted yesterday downstairs in my office. It’s a light-to-medium roast, just past “first crack.” These beans can handle a bit darker, but I wanted to pull out more of the fruity notes that only pop at lighter roast points. Mission accomplished.
The green coffee beans came from a “microlot” estate called Finca De Dios (Estate of God) located in the Fraijanes region of Guatemala. Finca De Dios is a piece of land that was purchased by an equestrian nearly 40 years ago as a place to lodge his horses. He left the wild forests alone and planted coffee on the rest. His daughter recently inherited a portion of the land and dedicated herself to restoring even more of it as a natural habitat and improving the coffee cultivation infrastructure. She gave her new estate the name in honor of her father and the faith that drove him.
In addition to protecting natural forests and habitats Finca De Dios provides better working conditions for its employees than 99% of the other coffee plantations in the area. They provide health care, education, safe housing, and safe working conditions. They also take great care with their crop, cultivating it by hand. The resulting beans are among the best that can be found in Central America.
The cup here comes from the Baleek porcelain factory located on the north side of the river that separates Ulster from the Republic of Ireland. We got to visit Baleek on our tour with Michael Card last year. We saw these cups being made by hand. There’s all kind of Irish symbolism built into the design and it will always remind us of that amazing trip. Michelle and I have had some amazing experiences; most of which have been the result of saying “yes” when asked to serve in some way.
I brewed this coffee this morning. The beans were first ground in a conical burr grinder. They were then brewed with filtered East Nashville tap water in a Bonavita BV1800, one of the only drip brewers certified by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA.) It was a gift to us from our kids this last Christmas. I’ll make some later on my ChemEx just to see if there are noticeable differences.
Do you I need to know all of this in order to appreciate this cup of coffee? No. It tastes amazing. But would it taste this amazing without the cultivation, the fresh roasting, the careful grinding, and the particular brewing? Probably not. The farmers who grew it are willing to invest significant expense and effort in order to cultivate coffee, and people, well. I found this statement on the website of the broker (Burman’s Coffee) that sold me these beans:
“They believe that they have been blessed so that they can be a blessing to others. they strive to treat our workers with dignity and love so that they can work in an atmosphere of respect and peace. They try to accommodate workers with special needs to jobs they can best handle. They also try to teach those who work with us values and principles; especially the importance of working with excellence so that our clients can enjoy drinking an exceptional cup of coffee.”
I’m sitting here this morning, long before anyone else is awake, watching sleet and rain fall down upon a layer of ice and snow in our front yard. My parents are on their way to Nashville for a visit. I wish they were here already, having a cup, instead of sliding around I-65. This coffee is warm and smooth and just about perfect. I doubt I could find a better cup at any shop this morning.
This has been a rough week here in Nashville, but this little cup is full of blessing. As I think about all of the things that went into it I am struck by how thoughtlessly I careen through most of my life. If I took time to consider the implications of my purchasing and consumption would my actions change? I feel good about this cup and what is in it. Can I say the same about the rest of my life? Not yet, but I’m working on it .
If you would like more information on roasting your own coffee check out www.BurmanCoffee.com. For more information about my upcoming book Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate, which also talks quite a bit about coffee, and includes in interview with coffee guru George Howell, subscribe to my blog and “like” the book page at www.Facebook.com/JesusBreadChocolate.
And if you want to taste some of this coffee make sure to get yourself out to one of the Book Tour events happening in April in Chicago and Nashville.