28th January 2015

Musings from a coffee shop

Starting our days with a hot, sweet, jolt of goodness is a regular occurrence around these parts. No morning is near to complete without one of our favorite amalgamations – espresso meets milk to create a better and more delicious beginning to our every morning.

Typically the craft of a perfect cup is lovingly brewed from a barista that knows my name and my order. Starbucks knows exactly how I like it and pride themselves on getting every concoction just right.

Let’s clarify, I’m not such a coffee snob that it has to always come from the green goddess, an ordinary chalice of delicately brewed coffee is just fine too – but let’s be honest, Starbucks makes my day easy. Other than nibbling through my earnings, this lovely place – which I can sniff out in almost every city – has taught me a thing or two. So even though my wallet feels the pinch, it’s been worth every single penny or pence, I’ve spent many of both.

Starbucks concept store

1. Every one of us carries a different, yet compelling, story. Sitting and intently watching the conversations in a coffee shop can teach us about culture, callings and can help us to view the world through a different pair of spectacles than the ones we usually wear.  It also reiterates how differently we were each created, yet how similar our stories can align. I’ve witnessed a daughter in a lovingly, yet stern, manner help the white-haired, elderly and now slightly slower, frustrated man adjacent to with a crossword puzzle. A man you could tell loved her greatly, yet one whose old age was clearly consuming his brilliant mind. Then I focused upon the mid-twenties visionary who exuded such a passion to change the world that you couldn’t help but believe in him. One whose passion was so contagious, I was captivated by everything he was saying. Among these encounters were your frustrated student, your toddler who, like me, had a slight addiction to this place only in the form of cake pops. A group of girls that have reunited over coffees only to find that they’d gone cold amidst the long overdue conversations. You had the struggling musician, the dreamer and the woman who was clearly burning the midnight oil while the heaps of people buzzed by. This community, from all different walks of life, can each teach us something if we take a minute to watch and listen.

2. People want to feel loved. There’s something ever-so inviting about walking into a place where they greet you with a smile, call you by name and know the drink before you even get to the counter. It’s that ‘Cheer’s’ kinda feel, ‘where everybody knows your name’. Even the introverts of this world long for a sense of community. This company is great at capturing this aspect. I’d even go as far as to say, not just great, but excellent. It’s something that the business is founded on and something they pride themselves in. Something that with such a fast-paced world, we can too easily forget. Sadly, they’re better at this than most of our churches – yes I went there. It’s of utmost importance that we as a church take note. This is how our people should feel when they enter our house. We must not prioritize the logistics over the people. We were commanded to do two things ‘love God and love people’ we must never miss the ‘love the people’ part.

3. Paying it forward makes an impact. I can still recall how I felt the one time a person in front of me in the drive-thru paid for my order. Sadly, I was shocked that there were still kind people in the world that would do something anonymously for someone they didn’t even know and with little chance that they would ever cross paths again. That little act of kindness, that didn’t take much effort, made such an impact on me that I adopted the gesture and paid for the person behind me. Not to toot my own horn, but when I paid for that individual I also slipped the barista a note that included a little promise from my Jesus to pass to the car behind. If that was my response to an act of kindness – imagine what the impact would be if we all played our part. The ripple effect could transform not only a wretched day to a beautiful moment, it could impact a life that changes an entire village or town.

Despite the fact that people give Starbucks a hard time for ethics, global domination, over pricing, killing the independent coffee shops, and any or all of that which may or may not be true. Howard Shultz set out with a vision to achieve an evolution to the coffee market and you have to admire him and the company for how well they have done that.

Who knew a coffee shop could teach us so much? Off to warm up my luke warm brew – remember that each day brings new opportunities to do something not just average but excellent!

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