My Life is My Work

I actually don't drink capps anymore

One of the things I promised myself was to publish this article by the end of the week. Due to how things played out, I didn’t have time to proofread it properly, but I’m sticking to my promise.

For a long time I’ve been using my work as a way to ground myself in reality. To give structure to my days and weeks, help me get up early and get moving. Opening the doors to the shop in many ways meant to me the first step in starting my days. The first hour was a moment to review thoughts, jot things down and prepare for the rest of the day. As I dialled the coffee in and got it to taste just right, I was also dialling myself in. Leaving the shop, I could keep this productivity up, do sports, cook something, read, write, etc…

But on free days, when I didn’t dial coffee in and centered myself on getting up, I tended to feel lost, like I was moving without direction.

Mind you, things only ever got to this point because I absolutely love my work. I’m passionate about what I do day in and day out, sometimes even to my detriment.

Time

Before I left home, my dad gave me a watch.

He said I should give things time. I kept rushing, wanted time to go by faster and faster by the minute. I wanted to jump years ahead, get to the “fun part of life.”

I didn’t understand it then, and sometimes still refuse to understand it now, but time is gonna pass no matter what, and it’s gonna run at the pace it’s always done. Just like my old watch, which ran out of batteries by now, used to tick at the same pace as every other watch.

The word “pace” is important here. The fact that we can’t influence it, even more.

It means that the minutes will turn into hours, months and eventually, in their due time, to years. It won’t go faster, we don’t get a skip button.

But we also don’t get to slow it down.

That leaves us with two options:

Either we use the time, or we waste it.

It’s not coffee

I know a lot of people start off hating the thing, or drinking it with copious amounts of milk and sugar to mask the taste but still get the caffeine. I guess I was fortunate in that regard, since I never particularly disliked drinking coffee black and never really did consume too much sugar and milk. For the longest time, I neither disliked it nor liked it, but I was always attracted by the ritual surrounding the beverage.

Nowadays, though, if you ask me if I “like” coffee, I’d probably answer that I don’t. At least not what is commonly regarded as coffee. You give me something that isn’t a somewhat fresh crop, fresh (and light) roast, fresh ground, fresh everything, and I’ll probably not manage to drink it. Maybe that means I became a snob. I’ll leave that up to you, I guess. But in the process of becoming a snob, I realized that coffee is much more than just coffee.

Stay Dialled

Every specialty cafe worthy of its name will, before opening the doors to the public each morning, pull some espresso shots, look at the flow, change the grind setting slightly, and taste its product throughout.

This process1 is known as “dialling in.” Every time a new coffee comes into the hopper, variables need to be changed before sliding the cappuccino across the counter. The difference between having the espresso base extracted for 32 and 27 seconds2 is the difference between having the guests drink something bitter and dry, or something sweet, balanced and luxurious.

And then, life happens. You open the doors, people come in slowly at first. You blink and find yourself with five orders standing in front of you. Each of them with their special wishes to accommodate. Each of them expecting just as good of an experience as the guests receive when getting into an empty cafe with an energetic barista who just opened the doors. You have 20 drinks to make, and they better be good.

It’s not who you are, it’s what you do

Every so often, we may fall into the trap of wishing people could see inside our minds. See what we truly think but can’t express, what we’d like to do but haven’t put the hours into just yet. We wish they could see all of our yet unfulfilled dreams, aspirations, all the good we’re yet to do for the world.

Every so often, after one interaction or another—be it with customers, friends, or even dates—I’d leave feeling a little disappointed. I thought maybe, if the person had seen what was going through my mind, it would have been different. If they knew how my day or week had been, they’d have understood why I didn’t put my best foot forward. Or maybe if they had just seen what I thought about saying but didn’t say. Yes, I know how self centered and irrational that thought is.

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