It is a ritual for a Wednesday: the last of the previous week’s roast steeping in the press, and I stand, preparing the green coffee beans for this week’s worship. I am a novice in this ritual. Caffeina does not rank her followers, but each task has its own order. I am an adept of the all-nighter, the brain-storm, the last-minute-writing-to-deadline-rush. I am an initiate of the mystery of the bean. I am merely a beginner in the rites of roasting.
As clumsy as I am in this, as uneven my roasts, I have to tell you, anything which can still my flurry of thoughts, which can tame the hydra of my mind, has got to be a holy thing. My head is never quiet. Not until this nectar of the Gods passes my lips. I am at the mercy of the bang pop clatter crash of the notions welling up–tasks left half-finished, tumbling into incoherence. An exercise, an example? Stop thinking linearly. Geometrically, imagine that every thought you have is equidistant from your current thought, a sphere of notions. They exist all at once, or perhaps rapid fire, creating this web of ideas linked only by the stimulus that spawned them. The statement “cheddar is pretty good,” logically follows the question “what soda had you liked best as a child?” because the soda was root beer and the first time you had it, your aunt served it with party appetizers, including various types of cheeses– of which Swiss and cheddar were among– and you had an abiding love of cheddar since before that time. And all of this remembering occurs in a split second, along with a great deal of other thoughts and memories, like the décor at your aunt’s party, and the taste of the Swiss which made you twitch in disgust, and that time that you asked for muenster on your sandwich and your friend made it with Swiss instead, not knowing… so you see, cheese is the logical topic to discuss when soda is brought up. This mode of thinking is my native land. Every sentence births a seething mass like this, and nothing but that black brew can stem the tide.
Caffeina bless this task. I sip my coffee plain before I set the beans in the preheated pan. There is something of Zen in this doing: I am whole and here as the roasting begins, a rhythm of moving the skillet, a pattern to turning the beans. This is my calm, my center. I smile at the first crack, watching these seeds go dusty green to gold to chocolate. For the first time all day, the chattering is still. These are the gifts of Caffeina: sharpness, presence, clarity.
I pull the roast from the heat, step outside to blow off all the “chaff.” The beans tinkle against the sides of the glass jar as I pour them in to set. I will at first leave the lid off. I will seal it firmly tomorrow. Caffeina bless this task.