People used to sit over a cup of coffee and talk, even with strangers. Now, that seems almost unthinkable. In today’s combative environment, we tend to avoid challenging discussions as if they would weaken us — even though the opposite is true.
It doesn’t have to be this way, despite what the barrage of negativity from social media and the news might have us think. Sometimes, learning about others and finding out what we have in common is as simple as extending an invitation, and coffee is the perfect reason to do it.
For hundreds of years, coffeehouses have provided a place where Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life could meet to discuss ideas and learn about one another. In fact, you could argue that coffee played a central role in the birth of our nation. Many key figures of the American Revolution met and planned the movement for independence in coffeehouses. One prominent coffeehouse in Boston, the Green Dragon, even received the honorary nickname “the headquarters of the revolution.”
While lots of different foods and beverages can open a gateway to conversation and connection, none of them are quite as universal as coffee. For many of us, the aroma of coffee is connected to some of our earliest memories. Before we could choose our own drink, we smelled the house filling with the warm, toasty smell of fresh coffee and knew it signaled the bustle of activity starting a new day. Maybe that’s why even people who don’t drink coffee love its scent.
Over the past 20 years or so, coffee has taken on an additional role as it has become the fuel of our work lives. While coffee and productivity go great together, this close association means we typically grab a cup during our commute and gulp it down without taking time to enjoy or reflect. Even when we’re surrounded by people, most coffeeshop patrons share their table with a laptop instead of a friend.
The recent explosion of “high-end” cafes hasn’t helped either. In your typical boutique coffee shop, the focus sits squarely on the espresso bar jockeys instead of the patrons. To get your hands on a cup of coffee, you need to hear a lengthy speech from Dirk the barista about his blend of the day and watch him concoct your beverage as fast as your grandma Gert creates her handicrafts. By the time you sit down with your cup, half the time you carved out to spend with someone is gone.
That’s too bad, because coffee still maintains its incredible power to bring people together. Ask yourself: When was the last time you invited an old friend or a new acquaintance over to share a pot of coffee? When was the last time you let yourself linger over a warm mug to savor the flavor, the aroma, and a good conversation? For most of us, the answer is “too long.”=
Thankfully, the remedy is simple: reach out to someone and invite them over to share some coffee. Even better, extend an invitation to someone new and different — maybe even someone with whom you don’t always see eye to eye.
Social media, the news, and our current political culture often highlight the things that divide us. It’s easy to look at someone who thinks differently or votes the opposite way and see an impossible gulf between the two of you. But coffee has a way of cutting through the noise. All you have to do is create the space and let the coffee brew.
You can avoid the hassles of traffic, finding parking, waiting in line, and trying to talk over the loud music in a coffee shop by extending a simple invitation to your home. But for good coffee to spark great conversation in your kitchen or living room, you’ve got to have some on hand.
Even if you’ve got two or three open bags of coffee around, it’s easy to lose focus on the person in front of you. How old is this bag? Which coffee will they like best? Is this too dark? Will they raise their eyebrows if I offer them a chain-store brand? Will they think I’m pretentious if I brew Dirk’s pricey local beans?
And let’s be honest: even lifelong coffee drinkers may not care much about the subtleties of Sumatran versus Ethiopian or the relative merits of light and dark roasts. For most Americans, at least until the ’90s, coffee was coffee.
But there has always been good coffee and bad coffee — and any devoted drinker can tell one from the other.
With a coffee subscription from Regular Coffee, you are guaranteed the perfect amount of balanced, approachable coffee delivered directly to your door. You don’t need to worry about which beans, where to shop, and whether you remembered to add coffee to your grocery list.
All that’s left is the simple joy of a great cup of coffee and the possibilities for connection it offers.
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Richardson, B. (2013, July 31). Coffee houses in colonial Boston. Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. Retrieved from https://www.bostonteapartyship.com/tea-blog/coffee-houses-in-colonial-boston