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The Christian Goodness of Brewing Coffee

The alarm goes off, and I reluctantly roll out of bed. On a good day, I get up, turn on my kettle, weigh out some beans, grind them, pull out my Chemex (a coffee brewer), and make a cup of fresh coffee for my roommate and I. As I brew the coffee, I pray my morning prayers: I pray for the day, for my family, for my friends, for the lost, sick, and poor. And of course, I thank God for coffee. I sit down, pour a cup for my roommate, sip my coffee, and take a moment to breath. This is my morning ritual.

Nothing really happens before this ritual. The day doesn’t start until the coffee is made and prayers are spoken. And that may be a nice practice, but why does it matter? Who cares whether or not you have some morning ritual? I want to suggest that a particular kind of morning ritual may in fact orient oneself toward Christ. It may, in this sense, be a liturgical movement. Let me try to explain what I mean by describing what I think making coffee does.

There is a deep comfort in my morning ritual of making a of cup of joe. I actually take pleasure and find peace in the coffee brewing process. The caffeine is surely a part of the point of making my morning cup, but it is more than that. The act of brewing and attending to the cup is a ritual that reminds me of the beauty of attending to the task at hand with reverence and care. This might sound like some sort of coffee worship, and in a sense, that is right. For it is a kind of worship: worship through the act of brewing coffee. In the act of brewing, the coffee becomes more than just a conduit for caffeine. In the act of attending to the individual cup, I have given myself to the coffee and the coffee becomes in a deep sense my coffee. Through my prayer, reverence and care, I have offered the coffee to God.  As a caretaker and co-creator of the world, I have created a cup of coffee worth delighting in. I have taken a good part of creation, and through my action and prayer, made it a greater and beautiful creation of mine. In this sense, I have given myself to God through the act of my own creation.

But the worship does not end there. I sit and share my cup of coffee as a gift, freely given. And then I drink, affirming the goodness of the coffee. And in the act of drinking the good drink, I am taking it and making it, again, myself; for “man must eat in order to live; he must take the world into his body and transform it into himself, into flesh and blood.” Man is dirt—matter—made conscious by way of the breath of God, formed—shaped like a potter shapes the clay—in the image and likeness of God. And so, as Fr. Schmemann so beautifully says, “The world was created as the ‘matter’, the material of one all-embracing eucharist, and man was created as the priest of this cosmic sacrament.” In the very ordinary act of brewing a cup of coffee, praying, and sharing a cup, I am becoming more like the priest of the cosmic sacrament called “matter.” I am through this act  centering my life toward the life of Christ.

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