latte art

Single Story of Coffee

A friend told me about her unpleasant coffee experience from a hipster cafe.

She wanted her coffee extra hot but the barista refused to do it and went on to educate her about the ideal temperature of milk frothing.

Both my friend and the barista love coffee — one cares so much that she is willing to pay to get coffee ‘her way’; while the other one cares so much that he feels the obligation to protect people who ‘do not know enough about coffee’.

Our perception of coffee is shaped by the stories that we are told about coffee.

As a consumer, most of us access stories of coffee crafted by advertiser, marketer and brand strategists, which often include elements such as happiness, luxury, and perfect backdrop of beautiful cafes.

Barista are exposed to stories of coffee that encompass aroma, processing, brewing, and chemical reactions in coffee compound.

Our taste buds remember stories of early coffee experiences in life while a barista’s taste buds are trained to remember stories of coffee training.

These stories define the perfect cup of coffee in every one of us.

In TED Global 2009, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a story teller from Nigeria said:

Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.

Being able to empathize with stories of different voices, makers and consumers of coffee will be able to break the barrier and understand each others’ expectation.

Understanding builds the bridge of communication and community.

Essentially, there is no formula for a perfect cup of coffee — all it takes is the right attitude and care.

If a barista respects the beans and needs of customer, if a customer respects the responsibility of barista to bring the best of bean to cup, if both parties are willing to put in less ego and compromise; they will create a space and moment so magical that makes the perfect coffee experience.

All of us love coffee — why don’t we explore different stories of coffee and simply appreciate goodness in the cup of coffee that connects us?

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