On coffee & passion

Coffee is one of my passions. I’m a passionate person and when I get excited about something, I get really, really excited and want to share it with the world, so let me tell you about my daily coffee-making routine. (I promise it’s about a lot more than coffee.)

As a coffee geek, I get turned on by top-notch responsibly-sourced artisan coffee. The distinct comforting aroma, the subtle or not-so-subtle floral or fruity notes, the earthiness, the hints of chocolate, the soothing warmth… All of these things light me up.

But it’s the ritual process of brewing it that I’m most passionate about. There’s this certain moment in particular that I really love and look forward to. When you make a cup using the pour-over method with freshly roasted beans that are ground right before brewing, this amazingly cool thing happens when the first bit of heated water is poured over the grinds.  The coffee grinds “bloom.” They grow. They expand. This significantly enhances the flavor - and the magic. 

It is a ritual for me that graces almost every day and it is a few minutes of every day that I cherish and feel content.

The step-by-step science of brewing a perfect cup of coffee

To learn more about the science of brewing the perfect cup of coffee via the pour-over method, read on (otherwise skip to next section).  

The pour-over method with a Kone filter is my favorite brew-at-home method because it delivers an excellent balance of body and flavor clarity, plus it is relatively easy and inexpensive to prepare once you have the right tools and equipment. The metal Kone filter (made by Able in Portland) gives it more body than a paper filter, but also refines it so that you can taste the delicate notes and subtleties than you can ever get from a French press. Plus, it is easier to prepare and more environmentally friendly than paper filters.

It starts with the best responsibly sourced coffee you can find, preferably locally-roasted by artisan coffee purveyors/roasters (Beacon Coffee in Ventura, CA is my personal favorite) that you use within 2 weeks of the roasting date. The coffee needs to be coarsely and consistently ground with a superb grinder. (This is super important. I like Baratza). You’ll also need the Kone filter I mention above, a glass Chemex vessel, a digital-read electric water kettle and digital kitchen scale. 

Next, weigh the correct amount of grinds for the amount of coffee you want to prepare based on 60g ground coffee per liter of water and place them in the filter, which fits perfectly within the top of the Chemex. Do not shake them, but gently groom the top flat with your finger tips and put a little indentation in the middle.  Heat the water to 200-204 degrees. Reset the scale to zero. Then gently pour about 10% of the total amount of water you will be using (100ml if pouring a 1L of water) over the grinds and wait for 30-40 seconds for it to “bloom.”  Then slowly continue pouring the remainder of the water. And voila, you have an ahh-mazing cup of coffee to enjoy. 

The most exciting part of the process

Ok, so back to the part that really excites me, the part that brings a smile to my face and makes me look forward to preparing coffee everyday -- the coffee “bloom.”  When you follow all the above steps and arrive at the initial water pour, wetting the grinds, you get to be a spectator and behold beauty for the next 30-40 seconds, watching the grinds expand and grow, poofing out, alive before your eyes.  It’s magic. It’s lovely. It makes me feel all warm and happy inside.

Every time I see this I want to jump up and down and share my minute of bliss. 

After this petite fireworks display is done, you slowly pour the rest of the water through the filter and complete the coffee making process.

As with all true sensual pleasures, this satisfies on so many levels. This coffee isn’t just pretty. Your taste buds dance with gratitude  because you took the extra care that accentuates the nuances and brings the flavor forward. The aroma comforts and transports you to happy memories and your version of heaven. The cup warms your hands and belly. 

And there’s one more thing that makes this a singular ritual:  you need to drink the coffee within twenty minutes or its flavors begin to fade flat. This is meant to be an instant gratification sort of thing.

You’ve guessed that the coffee ritual is a metaphor, right?

As a passionate person and coffee geek, I am delighted to share my coffee nirvana with you. I share this with you not only to potentially enhance your coffee drinking experience, but because the implied metaphor significantly applies to enhancing other aspects of life. 

When you lavish your attention on something you feel passionate about…

Your passion grows. It ignites your heart and soul and makes you feel alive. You feel more… You. 

When you take the extra care, attention and steps to enhance enjoyment and experience, this tending to passion becomes its own  satisfying, rewarding practice. You see and feel the results of your labor. When you become passionately involved in something, whether it be art, music, writing, research, traveling, cooking, gardening, or tasting something fully, you feel happier, more present, and more connected to your soul. 

And this moment of passionate pleasure is not just for you. These moments of passion radiate through you and can bring their color and vibrancy into other spheres of your life. People gravitate to your energy. 

In the spirit of Joseph Campbell, when you follow your bliss, new doors of opportunity open where you couldn’t even imagine would be doors.

How to find ritual that helps you tune into your passion

When you are a busy professional trying to balance it all, finding time for developing interests and passions might seem like just “a nice idea I don’t have time for.” You relegate the thing that light you up to the backburner to become stale, burnt, and forgotten. 

Truth is, you need your own version of “coffee nirvana” to develop and hold on to what makes you YOU. And so I invite you to consider the moments in your day that energize and excite you most, that infuse you with joy.

Make a small ritual that you already enjoy into a regular part of your routine can help bring and keep passion in your life. It could be as short as 5-10 minutes each day. You might take special care as you prepare and drink  coffee or tea. Perhaps you will devote yourself to writing morning pages, yoga, meditation, sketching, a walk, watching the birds, reading a few pages of inspirational text, or watching the clouds.

Whatever you choose, allow this ritual to serve as a daily reflection of your current passions, the passions you might want to nurture more and grow in your life, and a reminder to nurture  what excites and delights you. 

When you nurture the personal you, you nourish the professional you

Really. This is essential. Your career needs you to stay connected with your own source of vitality. 

Your passion is the spring from which all things grow, including a satisfying professional life . Your passions are the core of who you are. 

By watering and expanding your own grounds, you keep yourself grounded in who you are. When you make decisions out of your authentic nature. you enrich and expand what you have to offer, both personally and professionally. You have the  energy that will allow you to hrive in a career path, position, and/or projects that are  well-suited for  who you really are and what you’re meant to be doing with your life. 

Carpe Diem

The moment is here and now. In contrast to wine or food marinades where extra time delivers fuller flavor, with coffee there is this brief window of opportunity after roasting when it is still fresh enough for this beautiful flavor-yielding bloom to occur. You need to enjoy it in the moment and not put it off until the time is just right. 

Remember, today is a special day. Enjoy it. Stop saving special things for some imagined moment in the future. You’ll find that the little treats you saved for later have turned stale and you missed out unnecessarily. 

Savor the little things. Find excitement in everyday moments.  Look forward to the creative process and not just end results. 

Lessons from the coffee cup

There’s one more thing that this coffee metaphor teaches (and it deserves a blog post of its own!): you can’t pour from an empty cup. 

When you feel full and expansive in your heart, when you relish the magic and passion that delights your soul, you have the energy to pour yourself into your people and projects in your life.