What Makes You You?

Almost a year ago, a girl looking to move into town to work in coffee reached out asking for advice. Eventually we met up, chatted, and from them on I made it a point to give her tips and link opportunities that seemed interesting.

After one of those messages, she replied with “thanks barista Vinni.”

Barista Vinni.

I often think back to that message, and it always calls into question some of my identity. I find myself wondering what I did exactly to warrant that. To warrant being “reduced” to a barista. I mean, there’s a lot more that I am. I’m a reader, a writer, a hobby brewer. I’m short, I’m quiet, I’m upbeat. I walk quickly, I eat a lot, I work out. I’m a student, and I’m also a barista.

At that time, I was going out of my way to put my barista side on the spotlight, but how could she not see everything else?!

I only tell this little anecdote because it touches on an important concept: how others see us will very rarely match how we see ourselves. What they have figured us out to be will most of the time be a part of our identity, but reductive at best.

Service and Accessibility

I should just face it, this will sooner or later become a website about coffee, or heavily influenced by it. The start of this article will be very coffee-focused, but I’ll abstract the topic at the end and make it applicable to everyday interactions. The job has taught me invaluable lessons about communication and that’s part of what I’m trying to expand on.

For my readers who are unfamiliar with the coffee scene, the industry is currently in a very interesting spot. On the one hand, there’s a big push toward specialty-grade products, sustainable farming practices and a fairer treatment of farmers. On the other hand, we face it day in and day out that coffee is still for many people a drug. It’s a necessity, they can’t think before having the first cup.

This puts us in an awkward spot. There are tons of cafes popping up everywhere, the vast majority isn’t doing anything special and have no intention of considering themselves part of the specialty movement.

The specialty movement, meanwhile, is filled with snobbery. It’s filled with baristas and owners turning their noses up at customers who insist on drinking coffee with sugar and milk. There are horror stories of cafés refusing to service guests who order such things.

Here’s the thing: the specialty industry is working with a very delicate product. We know how much work has gone from seed to cup, knowing at the very least the roaster by name. We see our colleagues and bosses filled with passion for the craft. We see a constant push to reach more and provide a better product.

And often we forget the (arguably) most important element of this chain: our customer.

Dream It, Do It

e13db90f29f21c3e81584d04ee44408be273e4d318b4164292f8_1280_run

“It’s not with ideas that one makes verse, it’s with words.”
—Stephane Mallarme

Dreams are only useful as long as we set out to achieve them. Ideals are only useful as long as we take action on them.

I won’t daydream about what could have been if I had done this or that. I’m won’t dream about the unachievable, won’t think to myself “wouldn’t it be nice if I could have wings and fly away?”

The We-They Fallacy

ea3db7092ff71c3e81584d04ee44408be273e4d118b6154897f7_1280_group

Father and Mother, and Me,
Sister and Auntie say
All the people like us are We,
And every one else is They.
And They live over the sea,
While We live over the way,
But-would you believe it? – They look upon We
As only a sort of They!
[…]
All good people agree,
And all good people say,
All nice people, like Us, are We
And every one else is They:
But if you cross over the sea,
Instead of over the way,
You may end by (think of it!) looking on We
As only a sort of They!

Rudyard Kipling

Call it empathy, call it compassion, call it warmth. Call it what you want, but if there’s one thing we all need to learn, it’s perspective taking.

The Way of the Warrior – Final

New Doc 1_1

How can we live like warriors?

Throughout the past four months, we’ve been exploring different warrior traditions, starting from the very beginning in one of the oldest cultures on Earth, we thematized the battles we go through in our daily lives.

Passing through ancient Japan, we saw how important discipline and the acceptance of death can be if we want to live fully.

After a quick turn to the vikings in pre-christian Scandinavia, we saw the bonds that are created and must be upheld to succeed in dire times and hostile environments.

It’s time we broaden our sights and, instead of observing single cultures and clans, we start looking at warriors as a whole. It’s time we abstract the intricacies of each of those people so we can understand what it means to fight, understand what it means to dedicate our lives to something bigger than ourselves, understand what it means to be a warrior.