I haven’t been blogging much during my vacation this month because most of my creative energy (and coffee drinking) has been focused on putting together a book proposal. It’s about time I wrote another one, don’t you think? What Size Are God’s Shoes was published in 2008 and while I have an Advent/Christmas mini-book coming out this fall (with reflection questions if you need an Advent program for your church — or if you’re desperate for last-minute Christmas gifts), it’s time for something bigger.
We’ll see. If nothing comes of it I can always drown my sorrows in coffee.
Anyway, with coffee on the brain I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of my favorite coffee quotes with you. If you have others, by all means share them! Remember, it takes a village — preferably one on a small hill in Kenya that is known for its shade-grown coffee beans.
“Should I kill myself, or have a cup of coffee?” Albert Camus
“Without my morning coffee I’m just like a dried up piece of roast goat.” Johann Sebastian Bach
“Last comes the beverage of the Orient shore, Mocha, far off, the fragrant berries bore. Taste the dark fluid with a dainty lip, digestion waits on pleasure as you sip.” Pope Leo XII (1760-1829)
“Starbucks says they are going to start putting religious quotes on cups. The very first one will say, ‘Jesus! This cup is expensive!’” Conan O’Brien
“As soon as coffee is in your stomach, there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move…similes arise, the paper is covered. Coffee is your ally and writing ceases to be a struggle.” Honore de Balzac
“Coffee is real good when you drink it it gives you time to think. It’s a lot more than just a drink; it’s something happening. Not as in hip, but like an event, a place to be, but not like a location, but like somewhere within yourself. It gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, like be yourself, and have a second cup.” Gertrude Stein
“The powers of a man’s mind are directly proportioned to the quantity of coffee he drinks.” Sir James Mackintosh
“It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.” Dave Barry
“Give a frontiersman coffee and tobacco, and he will endure any privation, suffer any hardship, but let him be without these two necessaries of the woods, and he becomes irresolute and murmuring.” Lt. William Whiting, US Army (1849)
“Black coffee must be strong and very hot; if strong coffee does not agree with you, do not drink black coffee. And if you do not drink black coffee, do not drink any coffee at all.” Andre Simon
“I hate decaffeinated coffee. It’s useless brown water.” David Letterman
“Why do our men trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money, all for a little base, black, thick nasty bitter stinking, nauseous puddle water?” 1674 Women’s Petition Against Coffee
“Black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel, sweet as love. That’s the recipe for coffee.” Talleyrand
“Decaf is like masturbating with an oven mitt!” Robin Williams
“I never drink coffee at lunch. I find it keeps me awake for the afternoon.” Ronald Reagan
Caffeine is my shepherd; I shall not doze.
It maketh me to wake in green pastures:
It leadeth me beyond the sleeping masses.
It restoreth my buzz:
It leadeth me in the paths of consciousness for its name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of addiction,
I will fear no Equal:
For thou art with me; thy cream and thy sugar they comfort me.
Thou preparest a carafe before me in the presence of The Starbucks:
Thou anointest my day with pep; my mug runneth over.
Surely richness and taste shall follow me all the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the House of Mochas forever.
On why good coffee should be served at church: “The church is God’s house not Maxwell’s House. Tim Schenck
And if that’s not enough to keep you well-caffeinated? Check out this awesome video:
As some of you know, I like coffee. It’s not that I’m addicted or anything. It’s just that I’d rather jump headfirst into the Grand Canyon than give up coffee for Lent. But since this is a season of self-examination, I decided to look inward at my coffee consumption and share some possible signs of overindulgence. Think of this as a public service announcement for the soul.
Signs You Drink Too Much Coffee
Your sermons all begin with pulpit pounding — except it’s actually your heart.
You’ve seriously considered using holy water to brew your coffee.
Even when you’re at the altar with arms spread wide in the orans position, your right hand looks like it’s still clutching a coffee mug.
Instead of a cup of water on the pulpit, the altar guild places a cup of coffee.
You keep the same type of camel-back hydration system used by ultra-marathoners under your chasuble.
Rather than a prayer, every church meeting starts with a refill.
You refuse sacraments to people who drink decaf.
When you read Hebrews, you keep wondering when he is going to brew the coffee.
You’ve asked the sexton to move one of the giant silver coffee hour urns into your office.
You drink your coffee in the same style as your cassock: black.
The owner of the local coffee shop is seriously considering giving you a raise.
Hearing that Moses is walking on holy ground, your first thought is “I bet those grounds would make a terrific cup of coffee.”
You wouldn’t dream of subjecting your congregation to un-caffeinated sermon preparation.
On more than one occasion you’ve referred to the annual diocesan clergy conference as being Chock Full O’Nuts.
“Living water?” You’d prefer a freshly brewed cup of Guatemalan coffee.
You love facing the altar for the Nicene Creed since no one will see you sneak a sip out of your concealed travel mug.
You get excited when a parishioner beckons you to meet a newcomer named Joe only to realize it’s not a new coffee but actually someone named Joe.
When someone suggests serving you bad coffee at church you cry indignantly, “Maxwell’s House? This is God’s House!”
Parts I, II, and III of the ill-named four-part trilogy involved bad coffee shop names, serial clergy coffee drinkers, and church-themed coffee blends. In response to your “Please make it stop!” prayer requests, just know that this is what happens when I take four days off in a row. Just wait until I’m retired.
Of course, the greatest mug ever made is the Lent Madness mug but that’s a story for another liturgical season.
In the last of my recent trilogy of Coffee & Christianity posts, I explore faith-themed roasts. Of course, I only just realized it was the third such post and proclaimed it a trilogy (you can call it The C-Squared Trilogy if you’d like — though you’ll have to pay me since I’m copyrighting the name and there will likely be a fourth at some point).
First it was odd church-based coffee shop names. Then it was a riff on why clergy like to drink coffee with parishioners. Now it’s a look at religiously named coffee. Since coffee is its own religion, this may be redundant but here goes:
I recently highlighted some silly names of coffee shops located inside churches. While this was a fun exercise, there does seem to be an epidemic of clergy wanting to drink coffee with parishioners.
There’s nothing wrong with this — I do it all the time. In fact, I have a program called “Coffee with the Rector” where I meet with small groups of parishioners to discuss life at St. John’s in an informal, interactive setting. Sometimes I even hold “office hours” at the local coffee shop and encourage parishioners to drop in for a chat.
But I’m clearly not the only priest/pastor/minister who likes to do this. I’m not sure if it makes clergy feel like an “average joe” or if a program titled “Whiskey with the Rector” just wouldn’t fly. Something about coffee seems to break down barriers between people and opens the way to conversation. It might be the ritual of coffee preparation/drinking or maybe it helps to have something to do other than stare at the person across from you — something akin to having a good conversation with your teenager while driving.
It’s no secret that coffee and church go together like, well, heresy and preaching. Besides the ubiquitous Coffee Hour that has followed every gathering of Christians since the Last Supper, rarely is a mega-church built these days without a coffee shop on the premises.
Christians drinking coffee is a good thing — I highly recommend it. Unfortunately these church coffee shops get named by Christians who likely only drink decaf. Below are few of my “favorites” though, in full disclosure mode, I admit a recurring fantasy to retire and open a coffee shop called “Sacred Grounds.”
To celebrate the opening of Redeye Roasters, I couldn’t help myself from writing an article that appears in the current edition of the Hingham Journal. Naturally, I wrote it while sipping coffee in the new shop.
By the Rev. Tim Schenck
Mecca has arrived in Hingham – at least for coffee aficionados. With the opening of Redeye Roasters Coffee & Espresso Lounge, coffee drinkers throughout the South Shore finally have a destination artisanal coffee shop to call their own.
Ever since moving to Hingham 2½ years ago, one of my great frustrations has been the lack of a decent coffee shop in these parts. Believe me, I’ve looked everywhere and sipped a lot of coffee. When your sermon-writing ritual depends on sitting in a coffee shop with a laptop, not being able to get a superior cup of java takes on cosmic proportions. Well, perhaps not cosmic, but I certainly wouldn’t want to subject my parishioners to un-caffeinated preaching preparation.
While America, and much of Massachusetts, might “run on Dunkin,” those of us who are self-pronounced “coffee snobs” do not. Two words come to mind when easing into the drive-through at Dunkin’ Donuts: brown water. Nor does Starbucks hold a candle to any independent coffee roaster. Their burned dark roasts kill off the nuanced flavor of coffee while their corporate atmosphere kills off any ambiance.
Yes, I recognize that I’ve likely offended a lot of people with that last paragraph. But once you make the switch to specialty coffee, you just can’t go back. I was “converted” at a wonderful coffee shop in Tarrytown, New York, that roasted all of their beans on-site. Coffee Labs Roasters remains one of my favorite places in the world and I drank enough coffee while on sabbatical in 2008 to finish writing a book there.
I also love Bob’s story. After being laid off as the art director at a Boston marketing firm in 2006, he started roasting coffee out of his home. He has been a fixture at the Hingham Farmers Market selling pour-over coffee, espresso, cappuccino, and lattes out of his custom-designed coffee truck and his blends have been available by the pound at gourmet grocery stores like the Fruit Center and Whole Foods.
Along with a growing number of people, I’ve been nagging Bob to open a coffee shop since I moved to Hingham and started stalking him. He’s been graciously donating freshly roasted beans to St. John’s for the past two years in support of my strong belief that churches need not be havens for bad coffee in Styrofoam cups. As I like to say, the church is God’s House not Maxwell’s House. Sure, we had to invest in an industrial-sized grinder but nothing beats walking into church on a Sunday morning to the aroma of freshly ground coffee.
Bob is still roasting coffee but the roaster has moved to the new shop where customers can observe the process and ask questions. Located off of 3A across from Stars on Hingham Harbor in the Bare Cove Marina building, the café offers panoramic water views. Between the view, the smell of freshly roasted coffee, and the delicious, hand-crafted drinks, Redeye Roasters is a sensory experience in every way.
At its best, a coffee shop builds community. People gather to chat and plan and sip their favorite beverage and disagree and support one another and meet new people. Something magical happens that transcends our connections through social media and e-mail and texting. There’s just something about coffee that brings people together.
I hope you’ll stop by and support Bob in this endeavor. The coffee is superb, the staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and Redeye Roasters is yet another reason to love Hingham.
The Rev. Tim Schenck, Rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, writes the monthly “In Good Faith” column for the Hingham Journal.