Don’t dismiss this article due to the outlandish claim the title gives. I am not claiming that your habit of buying an iced caramel latte on the way to work is a way that you live out your duties as a follower of Christ. I however, do believe that the coffee you drink in the morning in many ways does scream of a divine creator who cares about beauty and art and creates individuals in his likeness.
Coffee is Art
My first claim is that coffee is in every way a form of art. The process that goes into making coffee is very particular in that there are so many variables in the process that could easily change the end result. Between the location that coffee is grown, the process for drying and washing the coffee beans, the length of time it is roasted, the size of the coffee grind, the amount of water and temperature of the water added to it when brewing, and the time it takes for each of those steps all add into the way coffee tastes in the end. A small change in any of those step could make an enormous change in the final product. Because each bean requires a different course of steps, coffee takes a lot of skill, study, and practice before one can truly discover the full potential of a coffee bean.
Coffee Farmers, Roasters, Baristas (and home brewers) are Artists
My first claim with this statement is that I believe each and every person is an artist in one way or another. Whether it is the movements you use when playing soccer, the letters and emails you write to clients, or the way you cultivate the soil when gardening; we are all instructed with the task to use our gifts to take what is the world and do something beautiful with it. For some people that looks like gardening and growing a vegetable out of the dirt. For others that looks like going into situations in the workforce and trying to create change for the better in the world. Being an artist is so intertwined in our being that it is actually impossible for you not to create something.
In terms of coffee makers, the entire goal of anyone involved in the coffee process is to pull the most flavor possible out of a coffee bean. Farmers, roasters, and baristas don’t add anything to the coffee bean, but instead are simply working to unlock the potential that is already in each and every one of those beans. The goal of people in the coffee industry is to take what is simply a small coffee cherry and cultivate the land, harvest the beans, wash and roast them in a way that will be ideal for grinding and brewing to make a cup of coffee that unlocks the full potential of the bean.
God Cares About Beauty
While we are all artists, we were made in the likeness of the ultimate artist: God himself. God, the creator of the heavens and the earth, the creator of the complex animals, plants, stars, and humans cares about beauty. The fact the we all create is entirely rooted in our identity in God. Created in His likeness, we too have this tendency to take things the way they are and cultivate them into something new.
God takes broken things and makes them beautiful. That is the nature of God.
God took a world that was “formless and void” and turned it into a beautiful creation (Gen. 1:2). Man was then created in his likeness, yet turned from the the beautiful state of the Lord and tried to be its own creator. Then God stepped in again and took the brokenness of man and exchanged it for beauty with His Son on the cross. Man continues to attempt to be its own creator, yet there will come a day when the ultimate artist will rise again and exchange the brokenness of the world for beauty that will never fade.
We are all partakers in the Lord’s process of taking broken things in the world and making them undeniably beautiful in a way that screams of a divine beauty. Making coffee well is simply one enormous way to unlock the beauty of a creator.
Working to simply make coffee very well is certainly a claim to the fact that there is a creator who cares about making things good. We are not called to simply enter this world, use up the resources with lackluster methods, consume, and dissolve into the earth. We rather are called to work for more sustainable methods of coffee productions, care for the environment we are given, work towards better conditions for farmers and their families, and spend time doing justice to the piece of creation that God formed in the first place. God never forms something to simply be tossed out — but instead he invites us to come alongside the work he has already begun in taking broken and ordinary things and making them undeniably beautiful.
“Why aren’t we known as cultivators—people who tend and nourish what is best in human culture, who do the hard and painstaking work to preserve the best of what people before us have done? Why aren’t we known as creators—people who dare to think and do something that has never been thought of done before, something that makes the world more welcoming and thrilling and beautiful?”
— Andy Crouch, Culture Making
It is also possible that I just care about coffee too much.