Coffee

Ed Spivey Jr. 03-09-2015

Illustration by Ken Davis

Saints (and sinners) around the water cooler. 

Greg Kasper 12-17-2014
Coffee grounds. Image courtesy O.Bellini/shutterstock.com

Coffee grounds. Image courtesy O.Bellini/shutterstock.com

Coffee — a seemingly small thing — has become a hugely important part of my faith life. It has helped me create bonds with new people and strengthen those with individuals I've known for years. Coffee has helped me build a stronger sense of community in my church in a fun way while seeking to fulfill the word of God by supporting those less fortunate than myself.

How has coffee had such a profound effect on my life? For the past eight years, I have headed the Lutheran World Relief Coffee Project at my congregation, Christ Lutheran Church in Whitefish, Montana. When we buy Fair Trade products, we are assured that the farmers who grew them are getting a fair price, and a chance at a better life. Lutheran World Relief, an international humanitarian organization, offers Fair Trade coffee, tea, and chocolate to Lutheran congregations through a partnership with the Fair Trade company Equal Exchange. Every third week, I set up tables at church, where I sell Fair Trade coffee, tea, snacks and cocoa product to my fellow parishioners. I enjoy and flourish in this ministry for many reasons. Here are 10 of them.

Cathleen Falsani 11-13-2012
Coffee ceremony at a restaurant in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Coffee ceremony at a restaurant in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo by Cathleen Falsani.

Back home in California, we recently purchased one of those one-cup-at-a-time Kuerig coffee makers after running through two high-end traditional coffee machines in 18 months. (Two writers in one house equals a high rate of coffee consumption.) While I think it was the proper choice for us – we waste less coffee this way, and have bought one of those reusable pods so that we’re not always using recyclable-but-still-plastic-and-not-terribly-ethical disposable pods pre-filled with the coffee of our choice.

I brought home a pound or so of ground coffee from Ethiopia and we’ve tried to get the amount of grounds and water pressure just right to replicate the drink I’d had in Africa.

Nothing doing.

Ethiopian coffee ceremony a la Keurig is too fast, too easy, and much too weak in myriad ways. 

In coffee ceremonies back in Africa, the beans were ground by hand with a mortar and pestle. They’d be uneven. Chunky. When steeped, the coffee needed to be sieved over and over to make the final product perfectly potable. It took time, patience, and a practiced hand. It also required a different kind of regard for the act itself: the woman preparing the coffee wasn't simply making a drink. She was presiding over something humble and holy.

Even if I could replicate the grounds (I do have a Le Creuset mortar and pestle that mostly serves as decoration on my kitchen window sill), and sieved the elixir until it was just right, it still wouldn’t be.

Why? No frankincense and all the sacred intention that comes with it.

Brandon Hook 09-20-2012

A cat runs for mayor and may or may not try out a new electric skateboard or a bike made out of cardboard. Some of the Pixar staff could've used some free coffee courtesy of GOOD when they studied for their graduate-level final exam in ichthyology for Finding Nemo. Oh, and the second trailer for The Hobbit came out too.

 

Tripp Hudgins 07-25-2012
The manuscript of "De Imitatione Christi." Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Brussel.

The manuscript of "De Imitatione Christi." Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Brussel.

Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing stronger, nothing higher, nothing wider,
nothing more pleasant, nothing fuller or better in heaven or earth; 

for love is born of God, and can rest only in God above all created things.

And so my musings on Thomas a Kempis, for whom Jesus the Christ was Love Incarnate, begin.

Will it frame my day? Will it help me make sense of French class?

Elizabeth Palmberg 03-01-2012

The tattooed former meth cook, Zach, is at the heart of the business—the artisan coffee roaster.

Cathleen Falsani 11-10-2011

What's better than a piping hot, non-fat, sugar-free pumpkin latte right about now?

Sipping a piping hot, non-fat, sugar-free pumpkin latte while listening to Kristin Chenoweth sing "Taylor the Latte Boy," that's what.

Go grab your latte. Kristin and Taylor will be waiting for you inside when you get back.

Warning: Sing-along flash mobs may ensue. Use headphones as a precautionary measure.

Joshua Witchger 10-17-2011

Herman Cain Sings "Amazing Grace"

Theresa Cho 06-21-2011
After posting a blog about my observations of a dying church, there were comments gi
Theresa Cho 06-13-2011

I recently wrote a blog about how to kill a dying church, asking questions about what to do with so many churches dying. I think the challenge is recognizing the signs that a church is dying. The problem is that churches tend to wither, which is a slow, gradual, and often subtle process. It is difficult to pinpoint when in the withering process it is time to take action, to make changes, and to make some vital decisions. While there are many reasons for a church dying, here are some practical observations that I have noticed in my experience. This list is certainly not exhaustive. It is also a list that my congregation has personally had to face, so I give examples of how my congregation has addressed these issues.

Laura Robinson 05-17-2011
Growing up, I had never heard of John and Stasi Eldredge's Ransomed Heart Ministries and their co-written book, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1400200385?ie=UTF8&tag=sojourners-20&am
Jeannie Choi 05-13-2011

Tomatoes. Uganda. Fair Trade. Here's a little round up of links from around the Web you may have missed this week:

  • Stop the hate in Uganda.
  • The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops asks Senator John Boehner for a budget that "reduces future deficits, protects the poor and vulnerable people, advances the common good, and promotes human life and dignity."
  • Continue praying for Egypt.

Will you be giving up chocolate for Lent? Coffee? Then why not fast for justice? Why not abstain from shopping at grocery stores that scoff at the notion of Fair Trade for farmworkers here at home?

Tracey Bianchi 03-04-2011
I just returned from a fabulous little weekend getaway. Skipped town with the hubby. Just us, sans three kids for the first time in four years, and it was glorious.
Jeannie Choi 12-03-2010
Jumo. Pro-beef. DREAM Act. Here's a little round up of links from around the web you may have missed this week:
Adam Phillips 09-16-2010
My wife Sarah and I recently moved to Baltimore and are knee-deep in that time-honored tradition of relocation: church shopping.
Tracey Bianchi 04-19-2010
This week is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. People all over this little planet will likely take a few moments this week to thing twice about how their daily routines impact this world.
Tracey Bianchi 04-09-2010
I was reminded of a little gardening tip last week that has my dear husband Joel rolling his eyes. Joel is a good sport.

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