A Tempest in a Coffee Cup


Moses saw a burning bush, but did he ever meet God through a coffee cup? Did visions of freedom, goodness, and power ever clear his eyes of illusion through the fragrance of a leaf or a bean? If not he missed out.

When Jesus calmed the storm when his disciples were worried on the boat, did he then say, “Be not afraid—you think that’s a tempest? Taste this espresso.”

Buddhists have known for millennia that tea is infused with the qualities of the Buddha and that drinking it encourages those qualities in the drinker. To drink tea is a practice. If tea is a slow, quiet breeze, coffee is a strong wind, powerful enough to extract you from yourself—a wake up call to taste the truth. To drink coffee is to lose control, to gain faith through extraction.

We have to talk about Tempest.

It’s my birthday and I’m 27 years old and I’m at Tempest. I plan to spend the entire day here, whether they like it or not.

There are paintings on the walls of ships being tossed about at sea. It’s not a big leap to see the connections to Biblical stories. This is human experience—a whirlwind of life where solid ground is rare.

There’s a map of the world on the wall. A visual reminder to plan your next adventure, no matter what the challenges may be.

Then, they bring you your coffee. If you let it sit, the surface changes subtly for a few minutes. Beneath the foam of the cappuccino you get the sense that there’s a rolling ocean, that the tempest in the paintings and the promise of adventure in the map are held in the cup. It sits there, a perfect container, waiting for you to dive in.

There’s something about first, second, and third wave coffee culture, as high quality coffee becomes more and more common in the mainstream. Tempest represents the rolling ocean beyond the first three waves, the currents and tides that are a life of coffee adventure.

Tempest is a testament to the truth that care and attention lead to Quality, the nameless, undefined thing that makes you realize you need to change your life.

The outsider may indeed wonder at this seeming much ado about nothing. What a tempest in a tea-cup! But when we consider how small after all the cup of human enjoyment is, how soon overflowed with tears, how easily drained to the dregs in our quenchless thirst for infinity, we shall not blame ourselves for making so much of the tea-cup. Mankind has done worse.

– Okakura Kakuzo, The Book of Tea

Those who cannot feel the littleness of great things in themselves are apt to overlook the greatness of little things in others.

– Okakura Kakuzo, The Book of Tea

About Kevin McGillivray

Kevin McGillivray is a web developer, writer, and teacher from Wisconsin. He writes about creativity, mindfulness, code, and tea.

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