The Heart Demands Conversation

“The heart does not want coffee or cafe,
The heart demands conversation with friends,
Coffee is the excuse in this case”*

I smiled as I read this quote. It comes from a sign in a coffee shop in Antalya, Turkey and I intend to track it down at some point.

The heart may not want coffee, the heart may demand conversation, but on this Thursday morning, the body wants coffee!

After I caffeinate I will demand conversation, I will want stories and interactions, I will tire quickly of computer screens.

But now? I want coffee! 

And you?! 

 *Sign from a coffee shop in Antalya, Turkey http://stainsbyte.com/coffee-and-conversation/

“Coffee should be Black as Hell, Strong as Death, and Sweet as Love.”

Today’s is a repost from a couple of years ago – and as I head into a busy Monday it seems about perfect! 

coffee-beans-quote

It’s Monday morning and as I head to my grey cubicle in a building that houses several hundred state government employees, I am aware that I need the drink that tops all others, coffee.

Waiting in line at a coffee shop, my vacation from last week feels like it was months ago, the sun and sand of a beautiful beach merely an image on my camera and my memory. As I wait, my mind drifts off to the Turkish Proverb painted across the top of a wall at a coffee shop in Rockport, Massachusetts. The proverb reads:

“Coffee should be Black as Hell, Strong as Death, and Sweet as Love.”

It was written in artistic script at the Bean and Leaf Cafe at Bearskin neck and I immediately knew I would love this café, complete with ocean views from every angle in the small seating area at the back of the shop.

Just as Americans sometimes think they invented Christianity, they also sometimes err in believing that they were the inventors of coffee and the great idea of the coffee shop. While the likes of Starbucks and Seattle Coffee did have a great deal to do with today’s obsession with the drink, it may interest readers to know that coffee was alive and well in the Middle East as far back as the sixteenth century.

Chapter 9 of A New Introduction to Islam  takes us back to that century where coffee and coffee shops were newly introduced from Yemen and coffee was “all the rage*”. The author, Dr. Daniel Brown states

Coffee houses punctuated the urban landscape of Middle Eastern cities like oases, as they still do

In a section called “The Coffee Debate”  he goes on to say “Arabic accounts of the earliest uses of coffee agree that the first to drink the brew were late fifteenth-century Yemeni Sufis, Muslim mystics, who found the effects of caffeine enlivening to their late night devotional exercises“.  The author cleverly lures the non-scholar into the chapter via coffee and moves on to discuss Islamic Law. Evidently the widespread use and popularity of the drink were enough to cause alarm and debate among scholars on whether it was permissible and prudent to indulge in coffee, but that is a post that I do not have the knowledge or authority to write! My interest on this Monday morning is in the fact that centuries later in the year 2011 Americans subject themselves daily to long lines, desperate for that early morning ritual to enliven their senses and shoot some badly needed motivation, disguised as a caffeine drink, into their bodies and minds.

So as I move through the line and get my drink of choice, I join millions who have gone before and will probably come after me in getting the drink that has inspired scholars to debate, mystics to meditate, and government employees to survive budget cuts and bureaucracy – the drink that is known in the Turkish Proverb as Black as Hell, Strong as Death, and Sweet as Love.

A happy Monday and if you are a coffee drinker, enjoy, knowing that you will never be alone in your need for this centuries old drink.

*Bloggers Note: All excerpts come from Chapter 9, Islamic Law, in A New Introduction to Islam. The author also cites “Coffee and Coffee Houses” by Ralph Hattox.

Muffins today include Passion Fruit! Stacy is amazing with her creativity and variety of ways she finds to make muffins! Take a look here to find Passion Fruit Muffins with Passion Fruit Glaze!

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Cairo Coffee Houses

Sitting in crowded outdoor coffee houses, drinking mint tea and partaking of the occasional shisha, talking for hours while time stands still – this is the Cairo coffee house. People watching, politic talking, reminiscing and bonding, the evenings during our recent trip stretched long into the night. Occasionally Backgammon emerged and two of the family played while the rest of us looked on.

It was as though time was nonexistent. We left when our eyes began to get heavy with happy exhaustion. The camaraderie and sense of belonging gave a comfort that many never get to experience and we didn’t want it to end.

There is much the east can teach the west about community and belonging through these coffee houses. In the west coffee shops are often about  providing tables and computer space to individuals rather than catering to groups of people. In the west there is a hurried atmosphere – you need to order quickly, your debit card at the ready so that in a flash you can pay and get out of line, scrambling to find a seat in the process. You have dozens of choices – triple shot, double shot; latte, espresso; hazelnut, vanilla; large, venti; medium, grande; small, tall – it can be physically exhausting if you don’t know how to speak coffee. Although I love going for coffee in the United States, endless time I do not have and community I do not feel.

In a University of California Berkeley study a few years ago it was identified that three quarters of the world operates on a family and friend system of support; the remaining quarter operates on an institutional system of support. It is not surprising that the United States falls into the latter category. There are many things that institutions can do for us, but they can’t provide the human connection for which we are hardwired. Family and friends give us this human connection and there is no place better to develop this connection than the Cairo Coffee House.

Cairo coffee houses with their steaming hot tea,the bright green leaves of fresh mint peaking out of the cup, or ahwa masbut, heaps of coarse white sugar on the side to be sweetened to your liking (diabetes? who cares!) are poured into glass cups that show the beautiful colors of the beverage choices. There are plenty of refills and the warmth goes through body straight to soul.

It’s a false illusion to be sure, but when one relaxes in the wonder of Cairo coffee houses it’s easy to feel that the Middle East is at peace.

Chai at Fishawy's in the Khan el Khalili Bazaar

We Don’t Brew Decaf!

I will not brew decafSleepy Monday, tired eyes, groggy body, grumpy people, slow subway, broken escalator, crowded new coffee shop with those welcome words “We Don’t Brew Decaf!”

The aroma of strong, fresh-brewed coffee permeates the shop and I think about how I love purists like this on a Monday morning. This recognition that only caffeinated has the strength to boost the mind and rev the body to an acceptable level of energy. The underlying assumption that decaf is a shadow of the real thing. That decaf is settling for less, not giving one hundred percent, acting as a substitute – all those things are present in those four words of a mission statement: We Don’t Brew Decaf! The older I get the more I appreciate purists like this – purists who have not bought into the value of hundreds of choices. They make caffeinated or nothing. There is no choice.

And being who I am, I contemplate this the rest of the way to work. Where do I need to be a purist? Where do I need to hold to my values and not budge from them, no matter what the masses may want me to say? When is it important to hold to something, and, although willing to listen to others, recognize that it is an area where you will not negotiate? What is my “We Don’t Brew Decaf”?

The unapologetic strong words on a coffee shop sign saying “We Don’t Brew Decaf” is the philosophical challenge I need this Monday morning. The challenge to be the real thing, not a shadow of who I am supposed to be. The challenge that some things are worth sticking to, there are some things that should never be watered down.  It’s a slippery slope down the dangerous path of the decaffeinated.

Coffee: Black as Hell, Strong as Death, Sweet as Love

It’s Monday morning and as I head to my grey cubicle in a building that houses several hundred state government employees, I am aware that I need the drink that tops all others, coffee.

Waiting in line at a coffee shop, my vacation from last week feels like it was months ago, the sun and sand of a beautiful beach merely an image on my camera and my memory. As I wait, my mind drifts off to the Turkish Proverb painted across the top of a wall at a coffee shop in Rockport, Massachusetts. The proverb reads:

“Coffee should be Black as Hell; Strong as Death; and Sweet as Love.”

It was written in artistic script at the Bean and Leaf Cafe at Bearskin neck and I immediately knew I would love this café, complete with ocean views from every angle in the small seating area at the back of the shop.

Just as Americans sometimes think they are the inventors of Christianity, they also sometimes err in believing that they were the inventors of coffee and the great idea of the coffee shop. While the likes of Starbucks and Seattle Coffee did have a great deal to do with today’s obsession with the drink, it may interest readers to know that coffee was alive and well in the Middle East as far back as the sixteenth century.

Chapter 9 of A New Introduction to Islam  takes us back to that century where coffee and coffee shops were newly introduced from Yemen and coffee was “all the rage*”. The author, Dr. Daniel Brown states

“Coffee houses punctuated the urban landscape of Middle Eastern cities like oases, as they still do”

In a section called “The Coffee Debate”  he goes on to say “Arabic accounts of the earliest uses of coffee agree that the first to drink the brew were late fifteenth-century Yemeni Sufis, Muslim mystics, who found the effects of caffeine enlivening to their late night devotional exercises“.  The author cleverly lures the non-scholar into the chapter via coffee and moves on to discuss Islamic Law. Evidently the widespread use and popularity of the drink were enough to cause alarm and debate among scholars on whether it was permissible and prudent to indulge in coffee, but that is a post that I do not have the knowledge or authority to write! My interest on this Monday morning is in the fact that centuries later in the year 2011 Americans subject themselves daily to long lines, desperate for that early morning ritual to enliven their senses and shoot some badly needed motivation, disguised as a caffeine drink, into their bodies and minds.

So as I move through the line and get my drink of choice, I join millions who have gone before and will probably come after me in getting the drink that has inspired scholars to debate, mystics to meditate, and government employees to survive budget cuts and bureaucracy – the drink that is known in the Turkish Proverb as Black as Hell, Strong as Death, and Sweet as Love.

A happy Monday and if you are a coffee drinker, enjoy, knowing that you will never be alone in your need for this centuries old drink.

*Bloggers Note: All excerpts come from Chapter 9, Islamic Law, in A New Introduction to Islam. The author also cites “Coffee and Coffee Houses” by Ralph Hattox.

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