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Monthly Archives: February 2012

That which grows…

And that which does not.

Unfortunately, I have to admit some agriculture defeat here today. Those lovely little Pink Beans I blogged about so many months ago (was it really just the end of a Seattle summer when I wrote that? My how the time flies), well. They didn’t make it.

Actually, let me explain that. Those two little fertile coffee beans were actually well on their way to growing, and then life happened. After over a month of impatiently waiting for them to pop through the dirt, I was starting to become convinced they wouldn’t grow. My Coffee Master teachings gave me an appreciation for just how hard they could be to germinate – too much water they could get fungus or rot. Not enough they would dry out and not sprout. And so I carefully, gingerly dug back the top layers of dirt one afternoon to see just what the heck was going on in there. To my delight? A green stalk was emerging!!

Thrilled, and with a renewed diligence towards caring for these two little new coffee plants, I kept up the regular watering routine and continued waiting.

And then I had to travel for work. And their care was left to…well let’s just say “other” members of the house.

I came home after a week away to two parched, dry terracotta pots on the kitchen counter. I had a total moment of devastation. Literally, almost TWO months of careful care and attention, gone. I kept watering for weeks, a month, maybe more after that, hoping that that some kind of miracle would happen and they’d grow anyway. They didn’t.

But, even though the two beans themselves didn’t grow these last months as I had hoped, I can tell you as I sit here today that a lot of things did.

1) My determination to germinate and grow a coffee plant from a seedling. I’m resolving to beg the other two beans off my coworker with a solemn promise that NOBODY will be allowed to let them go dry this time. We’ll see if I should be so lucky…

2) My incredible appreciation for just how much love, care, attention, and damn hard work goes into this precious little commodity called coffee, that we, for the most part, take for granted every day. Looking at what I went through just to get a couple of beans to sprout, and my horrific disappointment when it all went awry – can you imagine being a farmer, dependent on mother nature herself to see you through to the fruition of an agricultural feat that you literally depend on for survival?? I’m absolutely humbled to think about it.

3) My engagement and fascination with coffee. My coffee curiosity. From the attempt at growing the beans, to the blogs and musings on coffee, to all the random neurons firing in my brain over the last months as I shift and change and grow in the way I think about and bring coffee to life for fellow partners at Starbucks and the world at large; my excitement and drive to think about coffee differently has grown exponentially.

At the end of this journey to Coffee Master re-certification (yes, I’m officially re-certified, woo hoo!), I realize that in life, as in coffee, there is going to be “that which doesn’t grow.” And it doesn’t matter who or how what or why, the circumstances are not important. Because if you look closely, even that which doesn’t grow often gives rise to something else that does. There is always that which grows. And that’s a beautiful thing.

 

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At the heart of coffee

At the heart of coffee…

There is connection.

And what makes connection special?

The people we share it with.

Connection with family, friends, farmers, customers, community. Connection is all about il cuore – the heart.

For whatever reason, coffee seems to inspire us and connect us in so many ways. Whether it’s our inspiration to get out of bed in the morning when we imagine that inviting steam rising from a fresh mug, letting us greet that first connection of the day with delight, or our inspiration to stay up late at night doing all those things we never get to, maybe connecting with ourselves or with a good book. No matter the circumstances it inspires. It connects.

Last week it was inspiration for me to RE-connect with some wonderful partners who share a love of coffee. There used to be a small group of us who held a slight obsession with coffee, and who connected on a weekly basis to share in that. Someone would always bring a press or two or three, and typically we would go in blind. Our senses would take in the scenery, smelling for notes of this or that, slurping and tasting until we were sure we had identified at least several of the core characteristics of the coffee. And almost as special as the coffees themselves was what we would bring to pair it with. Typically a home-made treat, or at a minimum something picked out with tender care on an extra trip to the grocery store. Our tastings were always full of heart.

As with many things, life, work life in this case, eventually got in the way, and we gave up our weekly tradition. More than a year or even two went by since I saw these fabulous people, since I connected with them over coffee. And so I decided to change that.

Inspired by a recent recipe I found (that I thought would be even more incredible paired with the right coffee), and dying for a chance to try it out, I set up a little reunion. This weekend, in preparation, I made a trip to the specialty grocer for some ingredients, and whipped up a batch of chocolate baci (“baci” is Italian for “kisses” – they’re a traditional, delicious treat that’s incredibly easy to make and will make you never want to eat another Hershey’s “kiss” again). Special thanks to the incredible Bell’Alimento blogtress Paula for sharing this baci recipe on her BellaNutella site).

What a perfect basis for getting back to the heart of it all…getting back to some connection with wonderful people, delicious food, and a fresh press of coffee (we ended up pairing with Guatemala Casi Cielo and Guatemala Antigua).

And so I turn it over to you. What inspires you to connect? Is it a special coffee? A delicious pairing? Wonderful people?

I’ve set the table…now you can fill in the blanks. The baci recipe is at your fingertips…who and what will you pair it with?!

 

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