While serving coffee this last weekend we paused for a moment to listen as two of our guests talked and shared their experiences of their time in the military. Coffee shops are weird in this way when you think about it because conversations and interactions made in a cafe like this, don't happen that often.
What started as a joke a guest made about herself and the way she stood - at attention or at rest - turned into a moment of connection as a regular of Middleford came up to the bar and acknowledged how he does the same thing. Jess and I, who were working, stood back and were silent observers as these two honorable individuals who helped serve our country, reminisced and laughed about their shared experiences and hard memories. It was a wonderful moment getting to be a part of bridging their connection. It felt like we got a little glimpse into another world. We were on the "inside" to this unique exchange and symbol of comradery.
As I've thought on this interaction some more, I realized, baristas do this too. I've gone into coffee shops before and have seen how the baristas interact with fellow baristas differently. How ordering a drink is different than most other customers. "Hey, so I was thinking about the capp but I like it more like a latte, just shorter, do you do eight or six capp normally?" (Sometimes barista talk can sound like a whole different language.) Then the person on bar starts talking about this new brew method with a different variety of bean that brings out flavors of amber and surinam. "Yo, have you tried the SL34 on V60 at three forty, using a 400 micron sieve?"(Think I'm full of it? See for yourself - https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=SEIQrL9Ktp4)
That comradery, you could call it, is forged through those shared experiences, sometimes painful (like standing at attention for hours in windstorms, as it was for our two guests) and sometimes insightful ("Well I've tried a SL28 on Chemex, but I don't have a Kruve sieve, should I get one?") Ultimately, these interactions come down to a sense of belonging. It's a desire we all have and have been fashioned to need physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It requires us to show up, which can be extremely hard, especially when we feel unsafe or don't value ourselves. As Brene Brown puts it: "True belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” To live in this way of belonging, we have to bring ourselves fully and value our stories (serving in the military or serving coffee), our experiences (navy/army or SL34/SL28), and our knowledge (extracting hostages or espresso). We were privileged to play a part in the sense of belonging that comradery brings as our coffee business brought these two guests together and we hope to generate more of these moments in the safety of our beloved drink for years to come.