coffee Archives - St. Stephen's University

Coffee As a Life Style

By | 2011, Europe | One Comment

Coffee as a Representative of Our Differing Lifestyles
I have been back in Canada for a few days now and have not experienced as much culture shock as I figured I would, especially having been away for so long. The one thing that has really affected me since I have been back has been the coffee, yes you heard me right, the coffee. I cannot believe what we call coffee here, it’s just sad. Coffee is not just a beverage it’s a way of life. I believe the way a person drinks their coffee says a lot about them, and no I don’t mean sip or slurp or chug. I mean how they treat the whole experience surrounding coffee. Therefore, if the way a person treats the “coffee experience” can tell a lot about them, it logically must work the same for the way a nation treats the coffee experience. I noticed that we, North Americans, and the Europeans treat the coffee experience quite differently. Sure we both run off coffee and we all enjoy it in the company of others, but for North Americans it has become an addiction so thick that we can hardly even enjoy a good cup of coffee any more. Yes, a good cup of coffee, not a grande from Dunkin’ Donuts.

So let me begin by describing how typical North Americans treat the coffee experience: we wake up grab a cup of coffee and get ready for work or school, then we pick up a large coffee on the way to work which becomes cold in 10 minutes but we drink it because there is still three quarters of a cup left. We do not even savour the taste, we do not even acknowledge that we are drinking it, we run off coffee to keep up with our busy lifestyle and therefore do not care too much for the taste or the quality, we just need our fix. I realize that this is not the case for all, I am talking about the majority here, because I am sure that there are many Europeans who are likely to do the same, again, majority here. Now shall we look at the European way of drinking coffee? The portions are much smaller and the quality is much better. The flavor is richer and the texture is thicker. It is quite a bit more expensive there, but they drink less of it and enjoy it a little more. It just re-assures me that their lifestyle seems to be much slower paced, and they seem to take the time to enjoy good quality things such as coffee, wine, and beer. Yes, they treat wine and beer quite the same, good quality stuff that is not simply consumed to get wasted. I admit, I am one of those North Americans that runs off coffee and will usually drink any kind of coffee no matter how awful it is, but after experiencing coffee the European way I cannot see how I could go back.


The Rock From Which I Was Cut

By | 2010, Europe | No Comments

As I go about life at home, writing papers at the library and working at the plant nursery, as my family and old friends ask questions about my summer and my time in Europe, I am forced to look back. I weigh gelato flavours against one another to give my opinion on the best ones and quickly evaluate all the coffee I had so I can say which country had the best. As I look back it is easy to live in the past, to wish I’d spent more time doing this or that, to wish I could be sleeping on the ground in a tent with Lois instead of sweating, carrying trees and loading manure into people’s vehicles. It’s easy to wonder why writing papers and serving irate customers does not compare to strolling the streets of Europe soaking in the culture or eating a sandwich beside the Eiffel Tower.
There is a healthy way to look back and a destructive way to look back. Isaiah 51:1 says, “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord…Look to the rock from which you were cut…Look to the quarry from which you were hewn.”
I think this verse offers two applications for myself specifically and perhaps others reading this…
1) Remembering Europe and the time we spent there, the people I spent it with, what I learned (academically and about myself) and using that knowledge to help shape my time here at home, to remember the way we did life in Europe and apply it here at home.
2) My experience in Europe was coloured by the theme of restoration (specifically the Frauenkirche) and as I think about the “stages” that I’m processing, the time has come to be at home with my parents and brother, to look back to the rock from which I was cut – to my parents, to my Heavenly Father–and to allow them to speak life into me; to allow God to define me.
I am on the path of restoration. Europe was the beginning of this journey and God is my companion.

Coffee to Go

By | 2010, Europe | No Comments

At the beginning of the trip, I set several goals for myself. One of those goals was to be open to learning from the lifestyle and culture of Europeans. Little did I know that one of the ways I was going to learn was through doing one of my favourite things: ordering coffee, to go. Whenever I have ordered coffee to go during the trip, the baristas have used…unconventional containers as take away cups: two large fountain cups doubled up, less than a third full of coffee and in another situation, doubled up plastic cups with tin foil covering the top to avoid spilling. In the moment, I wondered why they didn’t have “proper” take away cups, upon reflection, I have reached a conclusion on the matter. Generally speaking, European culture has a slowness to daily life, hoping to be able to savour each moment. In other words, Europeans have an eat-in approach to daily life, so to speak. North America has a “to go” culture. We strive for takeout autonomy, drive-thru “cooking”, and microwaved “meals” dominate.

It seems that Europeans are on to something. Let me place a challenge to my North American friends: slow down, “eat in.” Savour life, conversations and relationships. After all, it’s better for the environment.