3 things I learned (or learned again) on a Barista Course (that are applicable to life)

I recently turned 40 and as a gift, a bunch of friends and family, instigated by my beautiful wife, decided to get me a Barista course. It should come to no surprise to any of you who know me, or who have stalked through my Instagram feed, that I love coffee. My house and my office are filled with paraphernalia with which to brew the perfect cup of coffee. But I have a deep, dark secret, I suck at making the perfect cup of coffee. My plunger coffee tastes like dishwater and I just can’t get a great-tasting, consistent cup of instant which tastes the same every time. What this means is that I end up spending way too much money on coffee I have not had to make myself. So what better gift to give our budget, than to send me on a course which helps me make better coffee? My wife is not only beautiful, but she is also smart as well! (Ladies, get to your goal by convincing your man that an awesome gift or opportunity has nothing to do with your goal at all!)

So off I went on Saturday to a great little gem in Centurion called Vintage Coffee. I have to admit, I was nervous, and it didn’t help that I had one of the worst cases of Brain Fog that I’ve had in a while. So, stepping into Vintage Coffee I met one of the volunteers that work at this coffee shop, that’s right, I said volunteer… These are people with lives and jobs, that give up their Saturday to serve people a great and consistent cup of coffee. Why? Simply because they LOVE COFFEE! Their philosophy is that they are making the world a better place one incredible cup of coffee at a time. Which leads me to point number one:

1. Not only Pastors change the world (for Jesus)

How many of you, while you were reading their philosophy, were thinking: “How can a cup of coffee change the world?” Maybe it’s not about the cup of coffee at all. Maybe it’s about the infectious passion we have for something. Maybe it’s about making the BEST cup of coffee we possibly can and attributing our pursuit of excellence to the ONE who made coffee. Colossians 3:17 says: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God.” What would it look like for us to reroute our thinking and for us to find significance in whatever the Lord has given us a passion for and has placed before us to do? If he has placed passion within us for Coffee, then let’s use that to glorify Him, and if He’s placed a passion in us for working with leather goods, then let’s create the most incredible products people have ever seen. And when people ask us why we do what we do with such excellence and passion, our answer can be “Jesus!”

2. Self-deprecation is not a pretty colour on anyone

I have a bad habit. I defeat myself mentally before I ever get to doing something physically. I tell myself I am going to be the worst Barista in the world. And when I inevitably live up to the low standards I have set, I then speak over myself that I was right, and maybe this thing is not for me! This is where a great instructor is key. Ashley Els from Vintage and a couple of the volunteers were so encouraging when it came to the latté art I was pulling out, that it gave me the courage to keep trying. I butchered many a capp, until I finally ended on a pretty decent, albeit tiny flower in the middle of a cup of great cappuccino. I am someone that needs to practise at something to become good at it. I don’t always take to physical pursuits easily and naturally. So when it comes to coordinated activities, which anyone who has ever tried to do some latté art will be able to tell you definitely applies, I get nervous and I cut myself down before I’ve even tried. So what would it look like to go in expecting the best, even if we completely tank? What do we have to lose? Matthew 6:23 says: “But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Our perspective, our vision, our outlook will affect everything we do. I liken this experience to a dad receiving a drawing their little one just did. How many parents have received a bunch of lines and squiggles, mistaken these for a horse, and had to quickly reroute and say that this is the most magnificent helicopter they have ever seen? And yet, that same weird, misshapen mess makes it onto the fridge, onto our desktop wallpaper and gets bragged about when people come over. Sometimes I think the effort, the try, is more important to God than the outcome. Remember when I said a great instructor is key? Well God is cheering us on, encouraging us to step out and take a risk. So let’s go into it trusting that He has us if things don’t quite work out… Sometimes our most magnificent mess-ups end up on His fridge.

3. I’m allowed to enjoy something I’m not that great at

At some point in all of our lives, we’ve had that someone special come up to us and say: “Maybe [insert activity here] is not for you! How about you rather try [insert new activity here]?” And while that person had the best of intentions, what we were being taught is that we should not be spending time on things that we do not naturally take to. Sometimes, these voices are wrong and we should not have been listening to them. My mom once lovingly pulled me aside and said that maybe singing is not for me – I went on to become a Worship Pastor (love you mom!). Other times, they’re right, we do not have a natural bent towards that activity, but does that mean we shouldn’t be doing the said activity if it brings us joy? I love coffee. And I love the idea of experimenting and trying to make the perfect cup. Can I taste the sweet nuances of caramel, hickory oak, and chestnut in the coffee I’m drinking? No. Can I make a coffee topped with an artwork that would make Michelangelo tear up? Not yet! Will I ever win the Barista finals at a regional competition. Nope. Does that mean I can’t enjoy this thing for what it is and simply love doing it, whatever the outcome? Sometimes our drive for success and wanting to be the best is going to suck all of the joy out of life. Yes, I agree that we need to find things we are great at, and make a significant contribution. But not all of our things, need to be THOSE things. Who knows, maybe you will come to enjoy your terrible baking, your misshapen pottery, or your incredibly bad latté art, not for what it is, but for the way it makes you feel when you do it.

So friends, find significance and joy in whatever is before you this week, try something new, give yourself a break, and enjoy a great cup of coffee (or tea – I’m not beveragist!)

One Response

  1. Wonderfully written Taiki. Now I am going to make myself a cup of coffe the way I like it and I shall enjoy every sip whilst giving thanks to the Lord.

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