It’s six o’clock in the evening, I look forward to what I want to accomplish before I hand over to God my meager offering of my efforts today, and retire for the night.
Making my way to the kitchen I set in motion a most wonderful ritual, the beginning of which releases a strong and rich aroma that fills the air.
Assembling my moka pot, I tighten the upper and lower chambers. Held within is the ground coffee which has been through so much over its lifetime: plucked from the branches which had given life, separated from its flesh, roasted, and ground. The final step in the lifespan of a coffee berry is contained within these two sealed chambers of aluminum.
Momentarily, a flame will be added to the bottom and the lower chamber will heat, build pressure, and force the water up through the perfectly proportioned ground coffee. This will cause the water absorb the flavorings which the ground beans so selflessly give up, and finally collect in the upper chamber.
While coffee is simple, it is also complex; while it is considered hearty, it is actually quite delicate.
Coffee requires a balance between water, ground beans, and time. All three proportions are important to ensure proper extraction from the beans to result in an aromatic, flavorful, and balanced beverage. If the water gathers too little flavor, the result is under-extracted: weak, sour, and tasteless. Conversely, if the water collects too much, the result is over-extracted: bitter and offensive.
I need to wait and watch so that it does not sit too long and spoil. As I watch the flame lap the bottom of the pot, and the water heats, I think about the pressure that is building inside. Pressure is crucial. Without pressure, the water will never ascend through the chambers, it will never finish its journey.
I wonder what the coffee grounds feel like. Having experienced so much already, I wonder if this searing hot pressurized water is even noticed. Perhaps it is so numbed by the many prior assaults that it is no longer able to feel anything. Perhaps it feels every step of the process, each experience etched into its body, concluding with this one.
I can hear the beginnings of the brewing process, and I slightly open the lid to observe the steady flow from the spout. The fruit of the union between bean and water begins with foam but quickly transforms to a liquid with a deep red hue.
I think about pressure, about balance, about over- and under-extraction.
I reflect on my over-extracted life which results in a similar way, bitter and acrid, deeply longing for balance.
Before I drink, I say a quick prayer for life — for the vision to perceive balance, and the courage to seek it.
Today I am thankful for coffee — for the joy it brings and for the lessons it can teach.
What, dear reader, are you thankful for?