A year ago, I was in 10th grade. More specifically, I was in our school coffee shop: Galloway Grounds. Yes, I worked there. It was fun. Galloway Grounds is this small coffee shop in the Chaddick Lobby of our school (imagine the lobby of a theatre with dark wood flooring, couches, and a small nook of a coffee shop and you've got it). One day would change my perception on what coffee is and its possibilities. Luckily for me, it was that day (Hooray!)
Luke, the Galloway Grounds fanatic in our grade, had told me that all those who were serious about Galloway Grounds were meeting during lunch to learn from a professional. Since I had nothing going on—and since every day I have nothing going on during lunch—I decided to come to this meeting. All 5 of us Galloway Ground leaders gathered into the small coffee shop. The hum of the espresso machine, the chatter between my colleagues, and the bright glare of the overhead lights was giving me a headache, so I started making myself an espresso. He walked in.
A 28 year old (or so he looked) wearing a black leather jacket holding a clipboard. This guy looked like Levi from Attack on Titan: slick black hair, a tired expression, and an attitude so cool even the espresso machine stopped humming to hear him speak. Immediately I turned to face him, and he looked straight through me. Past my eyes, into my soul, deeper. I put down the espresso I was making. His expression told me I was doing it wrong, but he wasn't going to tell me how to do it right.
"Is this Galloway Grounds?" He inquired. "Yes, this is Galloway Grounds hey hello I'm Melissa" said my boss, Melissa. She was the senior who had taken Galloway Grounds and reinforced the supports enough to save it from collapsing in on itself. She was the Queen of Galloway Grounds, and everyone looked up to her for it. His eyes darted back to me. "Can I try some of that?" Pointing towards the espresso. "...oh yeah this yes go ahead yea" I stammered. He pounded the glass on the table once before tasting the awful mess of an espresso. His expression did not falter. I took a swig of my own poison and its bitter taste made my face churn in on itself as I started coughing up a hassle.
"First order of buisness. How to make an espresso 101!" He laughed. This man was an enigma. His deadpan expression had switched to happy, full of laughter and optimism. The rest of the time was simultaneously a blur, a dream, and a surrealistic memory. I remember a lot of it in vivid detail but it all blurs together. I remember he taught us that espresso is either too bitter or too sour, and the right balance was harder for beginners to find without practice. He taught us how to find the balance, and through the process, I must've had 10 espressos.
He taught us how to make Americanos and Lattes and Cappachinoes and all sorts of things. The place buzzed with questions, exclamations, intrigue and fast dialogue. This guy was sharp, always having the answer to every question before we asked it. At the end of the lesson, he told us about the coffee shop he worked at: Land of a Thousand Hills. He quickly made up an espresso for each of us and I swore when he whipped his jacket on and handed the clipboard to Melissa he must've flown out of the shop. It was like all the warmth of the room faded and we had this elixer of espresso which exploded with flavor at a single sip.
I will never forget that experience. Describing it would be like describing a dream long past. I only recently built up the courage to go to Land of a Thousand Hills and it was one of the best experiences in my life. They made a swan on my latte. It was great. Anyways, here's the difference between good and bad coffee. It's a simple subtle difference.
Good coffee tastes good, and bad coffee tastes bad. Sometimes its hard to figure out because we've been drinking bad coffee the majority of our lives. However, if you take time to try coffee at a coffee shop instead of what's convenient, you get to experience the simple pleasures in tasting a really, damn good coffee.
Coffee is a break, a lapse of time without worry where one can take pleasure in its simplicity and tang flavor. Instead, we drink coffee not for taste but for substance. We've accustomed ourselves to convenient sugary sap instead of the rich taste of finely brewed coffee. Today I tried 3 different types of coffee: Keurig Starbucks french roast, a Starbucks latté, and a Land of a Thousand Hills latté. The Keurig latté sucked. The Starbucks latté sucked more. The Land of a Thousand Hills latté was great. It's almost pathetic how much spoiled rubbish we drink and don't think about it. And it's the same with every other food.
I guess I'm starting to realize that it has more to do with lifestyle and direction in life. If you don't have enough time to sit down and read or have a conversation or just observe the world around you, then you only have enough time to drink down sugar to get on with your day. I feel happier taking my time with life, and I think that's a big part of the pleasure in coffee. You take your time. And the good coffee is always the one where the most effort has been put into it.
On a trip in Greece, I had the pleasure of enjoying a cup of coffee with one of my favorite teachers, Dr. Vieron. I wrote an entire article on him a year ago, so you all may know him. I talked about life, philosophy, the details that normally fly by my mind. The entire trip was kind of like that, a break from the everyday blurring of detail. I got to look at the boats rock past with my binoculars, see the beautiful white buildings on the Mykonos islands, throw glass-like volcanic rocks off of a volcano to see it shatter below on the sharp rocks like china plates, and breathe in the Aegean breeze as life slowed down. The coffee was bitter. I savored it.