Coffee and Creation

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Every morning has a routine, albeit easily interrupted and rearranged. But for me, the basics are the same. Wake up. Throw on a t-shirt and some gym shorts. Take care of a few items in the bathroom. Then, and this is non-negotiable, I head to the kitchen to brew some coffee. On the mornings where I’m in a rush, I will use the drip machine because of its ease and speed. But if there’s a bit of time in the schedule, if I don’t have somewhere I need to be immediately, I”ll take my time with a slower paced brew, using my chemex or my french press.

As we think about what a rule of life looks like, I would imagine that for many of us coffee is a central part of our routine. Whether we brew it at home, or we have a local shop to visit, or we just grab a cup through a drive thru window, many of us need our caffeine fix each day. While my love for (some would say addiction to) coffee is well known, I don’t think it’s too far a stretch to say that there’s something spiritual going on there. I think I see God in that routine.

There are two principal places I see God in my morning java hit. The first doesn’t happen all the time, but occasionally I am up before everyone else in the house, and my morning cup of coffee comes with a moment of silence. The kids are sleeping. The dogs are sleeping. And I have a moment to sit with my cup of coffee in the stillness of the morning. My mind has a habit of wandering in those times, but I’ve come to learn that those early morning moments are great times for prayer, to hear from God, and to lift up my day before God.

But as I mentioned, those quiet moments are few and far between. Usually my coffee is on the run, a little travel mug piece of serenity in an otherwise chaotic day. But no matter how rushed I am, just about every time I partake of the nectar of goodness, I am reminded about God’s creation. The truth is, there aren’t a whole lot of steps between how coffee grows and how we enjoy it. The fruit is picked, the beans extracted, then roasted, then ground, then brewed. There is something so basic and pure about this, not like the internet or television that we’ve gone and made a mess of (more about this in a minute). This is something that God has given to us to enjoy. It is, for as much as I may joke, a gift from God.

This awareness does two things for me. The first is, it causes me to ask what other gifts God may have given me that I am more or less aware of. What if, from the first sip in the morning, our minds were to wander to the things we are most grateful for? Our friends. Our families. Our jobs. The cars that get us to our jobs. The next breath we take. All are gifts from a God of abundance who wants nothing more than to see us enjoy them. Imagine starting every day from a posture of gratitude! A cup of coffee can do just that.

On a bit of the darker side, coffee reminds me of our responsibility in caring for God’s creation. While of course these are basic gifts from God, we have in fact found a way to mess them up. Farmers aren’t paid a living wage, because we want more coffee more quickly more cheaply. The methods by which we harvest some of our coffee isn’t sustainable to our planet. And in fact the cars we drive while drinking said coffee could be doing a bit of harm. I don’t lift those things up in my morning coffee habit because I want to complain or lay blame at other people’s feet. Most mornings, I wonder about my role in all of that mess. How could I be living a more sustainable life? How could I be taking better care of the farmers that provided this gift to me? How can I do a better job looking after God’s creation?

The bottom line is that a cup of coffee is rarely ever simply a cup of coffee. There’s a lot going on beneath the surface here, and if coffee is a part of our daily routine anyway, it means that we can use that to turn our hearts and attentions toward God right as the day begins.

So, un-sarcastically, I invite you to whisper the age old prayer every time a sip of coffee passes your lips:

Thanks be to God!

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