Traveling is always very enlightening. There’s really nothing like the feeling of going to a different place or new country around the world; there’s nervous anticipation of not knowing what to expect, the thrill of adventure not to mention tasting new foods, seeing the sights and meeting new people who may speak another language (or multiple more). The unknowns can be stretching, but it’s so valuable. Developing cross-cultural relationships I believe is so important. Perspective broadens, deepens and yet… simplifies.
Everywhere I’ve gone, even remote communities, coffee is served and enjoyed.
Coffee brings people together; it is connecting.
Coffee enables conversation – listening and sharing with one another.
Much like the diverse people around us, coffee comes from many regions of the world as well. Coffee from different regions of the world have unique flavors; it can taste different and it can be prepared differently as well.
There’s a beauty in coffee coming from around the world. Each one represents the region it was grown and developed.
There’s beauty in trying new things.
Just like coffee, when we grow accustomed to preparing something exactly how we like it, to only consume it that certain way, it can be challenging to enjoy something new.
Once when traveling, I was internally faced with this question: how do I respond when I taste something that I’m not used to? Do I politely refuse it or have a sour attitude since it’s not how I would always like it? I was faced with a choice – am I going to focus on how different something tastes or am I going to be thankful for the unique experience, nourishment served to me and enjoy the company of those around me?
What makes coffee good? Well there’s a range of options… from grocery store coffee to specialty coffee; there are flavor profiles, cupping scores and quality measures… all good things, but beyond all of that and setting it aside for now…
There are beautiful things to celebrate about our vast diversity in this world; there are complexities to all of our unique stories. At the core of our humanity, we also share similarities, and we have common ground we can connect over: the common human experience.
In August 2019, I walked to the local coffee shop before work. I sat in one of the comfy chairs while waiting. Shortly after, a man came over and asked if he could sit as well. He settled in then asked my name and introduced himself as Juan. There was a partial language barrier, and we both had some trouble fully understanding one another at times but we briefly chatted for a few minutes; I asked him a few questions and learned a little about his story and family. I walked out, coffee in hand, smiling that day and loving how easily people can connect in conversation through coffee.
The following week was my birthday and I had taken time off to rest, so what did I do? Go grab coffee of course! I walked in the same shop and as I was getting in line I saw Juan! I said hello to my new friend. He looked happy to see me again. He shook my hand and remembered my name. He was waiting on his coffee order with a few co-workers, but he asked if he could stand in line with me. We began to chat briefly. Approaching the counter, I grabbed my wallet, but before I knew it, he asked if he could buy my coffee. I was so shocked. I said yes and thanked him greatly. I only ordered coffee to be polite, intending to buy a muffin after he left. But sure enough, after I ordered my coffee he then pointed to the muffins. I started to say no, but then asked him to make sure, and he so kindly said “Yes, please.” I thanked him again and we wished one another a good day. I sat down in tears enjoying the breakfast Juan had bought me that day. He has no idea how impactful the timing of that gesture was.
I could sense Juan’s gratitude towards me for listening and showing interest in his story. Juan treated me with kindness; he extended intentionality and generosity towards me that day. I felt cared for and received so much hope from that one act of kindness. This moment was one of many threads that led me to the why of choosing coffee to be the means of “connecting communities through coffee conversations.”
Next time you are at your favorite local coffee shop, ask someone their story, remember their name and maybe even buy their coffee too – you never know how it could impact someone’s life.
Edited by: Alida Cassinari, @hacassinari
Featured Photo Credit: @nate_dumlao via Unsplash