How Do You Take It?

There is a new coffee shop in the neighborhood of the church, Ripple Cafe, which offers hot and iced coffee, free wi-fi and comfortable seating.  I visited the café last week and found their coffee and staff most pleasant.   I could easily picture myself taking my laptop and ‘working’ there on a sunny spring or summer afternoon.  I probably won’t do that, but I like to think I might; but then again, I said the same thing about the last three coffee shops that have opened in the neighborhood.  I would like to think that I am the kind of person that has deep conversations and composes thoughtful sermons in a café.

But I am more a Dunkin Donuts kind of person.  I want my coffee plain, with cream only, in a Styrofoam cup with a plastic cover.  In fact, I think I might be a coffee snob (or whatever the opposite of a snob might be, an ‘anti-slob’): I have a tiny bit of distain for those who are willing to spend a few dollars more for an inferior serving of joe in a mermaid-logo cup and I scoff at the pretension emanating from other purveyors who serve their multiply hyphenated fare that they pass off as their exclusive caffeinated blend.  I don’t need fancy titles, foamy additives or socially aware saying imprinted on cardboard sleeves; I want a good cup of coffee.

The truth is that I am not the center of the universe and not everyone shares my opinions about coffee.  All the coffee shops and all the coffee drinkers can mutually co-exist.  There might even be some positive interact with tea drinkers.  Good people drink chai lattes, as do those who are dark of heart.  Godly people consume espresso from tiny cups, as do the ungodly.  I hear that some of the morally upright even drink iced tea, through I cannot comprehend why.  There is a place for everyone, and everyone can find what they need in some place.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  Galatians 3:28

I find it unfortunate that what is true about coffee shops is often also true about the church.  The followers of Christ tend to flock to where they are served what they prefer – there are churches that cater to the porcelain demitasse crowd and churches that cater to the 20-ounce paper cup crowd.  Occasionally, these diverse demographics are drawn together – at denominational meetings, retreat centers, funerals or weddings – and we politely sip what is offered, like it or not, but typically we stay where we get what we want.  I sometimes wonder if we could, as the church, share fellowship with those who treasure every sort of coffee concoction.

In the kingdom of God, there is neither ‘large regular’ or ‘americano’, neither ‘Sumatra single-origin’ or ‘Maxwell House’, nor is there ‘K-cup’ or ‘organic’, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.  And, for that reason, I will enjoy all the coffee my community provides, perhaps even trying something I might never choose otherwise, as I sit with my laptop at that cozy café near the church.


One response

  1. ​One of you best articles, Mike. Even-handed, objective yet introspective.

    I myself eschew Starbucks, DD, et al, as I believe that no coffee is worth more that $1.25 an 8 ounce cup. I look askance at those awaiting their coffee-like concoction the “barista” lovingly crafts just for them … at $6.75 a cup and up…

    I am bemused by the hype surrounding the manufactured “indicators of superiority” that people lap up, readily handing over outrageous amounts of money for “Grandes”, et al. And most often have no idea what they are really drinking.

    In your shadow, I like black coffee. A large cup, preferably plain paper, with a plain paper cuff and no top. No hazelnut. The smell makes my stomach twitch when I remember a co-worker in the next cubicle at the telco who bought one every morning, remove the cup’s top and inhale the “aroma” for up to 30 minutes before drinking the coffee. I usually departed my cubicle until the area was clear.

    When working in Pleasanton, CA, at the HQ of my employer, the cafeteria coffee was “OK” but carried a burnt taste so I had to repair to the local mall’s Starbucks. People lounging in stuffed chairs while working on PCs and sipping whatever god-awful drinks they’d purchased. Two long lines to the counter staffed by two stereotypical slacker dudes. To the left, a gaggle of people waiting for the expensive “enhanced” drinks they’d ordered from the “barista” who would add sugary flavorings, chocolate chips, stiff waves of steamed milk, et al, to the cups. Maybe a few even contained some coffee.

    Despite arriving at the same time for five days weekly, the drill was always, ludicrously, frightening banal …

    Unh … good morning … what can I get for you, dude?

    I am not a dude. I just want order a … tall … black … coffee … to … go.

    Yah … unh … you want sugar with that?

    No … just a … tall … black … coffee … to … go.

    Oooh … right. Dude, will you want milk with that or on the side?

    No … No … just a … tall … black … coffee … to travel.

    Got it, dude. And that was for here or take away?

    I am not … take away. Please.

    OK, dude. Got it! (recites the order)

    Thank you.

    (server returns with a cardboard carrier with a large black coffee, two sugar packs, and a wooden stirrer)

    Here’s your order … unh … like you ordered. That’ll be $1.55 and have a nice day, dude … as he cocks his head to direct my gaze to the tips jar. Fat chance …

    The third time or so at this place I began to feel like I was in the Fraser (love it!) TV show. I kept myself amused by imagining how Niles would handle this transaction.

    See you soon.

    Have a wonderful weekend.



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