I have this dream of traveling to Japan. In college, I would fantasize about trips abroad with friends looking at places to eat, explore and stay. I had a small travel fund that I started in the beginning of 2020, putting away a few extra bucks here and there to hopefully make my dream come true. That dream came to a screeching halt and my weekly routine of going into an office, seeing co-workers, visiting friends, bouldering and sitting at my favorite café were pulled from under me. Everything that I had saved seemed like it was for naught – I was lost.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I used to hate drinking coffee. Aside from the caffeine, I didn’t understand why people drank it. On the flip side, I love the culture and environment it fosters. Strolling into my favorite coffee shop on a lazy Saturday morning at the break of dawn, sipping on a chai latte with a fresh pastry in hand was my MO. Melting into the soft couches adorned with pillows, listening to the mellow music and sounds of the baristas making beverages fill the air, along with the smell of freshly pulled espresso was a treat for the senses. Being at the coffee shop so early in the morning and getting to witness everything before it got crowded would bring me into a relaxed, Zen-like state.
With that weekly routine pulled away from me and day dreaming of a vacation to Japan, I found myself watching these relaxing videos of people living in these countries. One thing led to another, and I found myself watching café vlogs of baristas from Japan, and even Korea, set up a camera and make beverages. The sounds that I would hear every Saturday morning were found in these videos – it made me happy. However, something was missing. One of the channels that I discovered was focused strictly on pour over coffee. I was so intrigued by the process that I ended up binge watching majority of their content and ended up ordering a V60, gooseneck kettle and coffee beans from a specialty coffee shop in Kyoto, Japan. Satisfying my curiosity, I went down a rabbit hole of coffee culture in Japan and discovered how methodical and “slowed down” the coffee culture is compared to the United States.
Upon receiving the package late on a Friday afternoon, I decided to use everything the next day. The package came with instructions on how to brew my selected coffee beans with notes of honey, dark chocolate and citrus. I whipped out an old coffee grinder that I had laying around, boiled the water in my gooseneck kettle and set up my space, similar to the videos that I had watched. It was still early in the morning, so the warm orange glow from the sun started to shine through the windows. I had some calm music playing in the background and went on to brew the coffee. The process of slowly pouring water over the coffee beans, the aromas and the whole atmosphere that one morning had me in that similar Zen-like state. This is what I was missing.
Sure, that cup of coffee that I did make was a challenge to finish. However, I started to immerse myself into learning more and how to improve. The money I did save for my trip was used to fund my new found obsession. I made it a point to practice every day and sure enough, my constant exposure to coffee made me crave it. This daily ritual of making coffee in the morning and mimicking the atmosphere of my favorite coffee shop grounded me and still does to this day. It serves as a constant reminder to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures in life, even in the midst of uncertainty and chaos.
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