An Intersection of Coffee & Poetry

I’m Philip Booze, a Loyal Coffee barista and also a poet. This blog is written in connection with a series of poems and pictures I'll be posting on the Loyal Coffee Instagram page over the next week. The poems are inspired by my experience with coffee and as a barista. This blog takes a deeper look into my intentions for the project. So head over to our instagram (@loyalcoffee) and check out the poetry after you get done reading!

Start With Intention

The last time you sat down with a cup of coffee, any coffee, did you spend any time thinking about the coffee? Or was the coffee a soothing friend sitting quietly as you gathered your thoughts, enjoyed a chat, fought first date flutters, endured a zoom meeting, finished up that bio lab, finished a quarterly report, etc? For many of us, coffee sits in a quiet corner with us while we “do”. I love the value coffee brings to us without demanding our attention. However, I have learned so much from coffee through brewing with intention & focus and drinking it with appreciation. The intersection of intentional coffee engagement and poetic practices has led me to this collection of poems.  

The idea that “coffee” is a myriad of different things depending on the context in which it’s used helped me to “zoom out” from the perfect cup I was chasing.

As I stumbled through my coffee journey, becoming a barista provided the context for a more stable coffee foundation.  The idea that “coffee” is a myriad of different things depending on the context in which it’s used helped me to “zoom out” from the perfect cup I was chasing. Initially, the most interesting aspect of this was the literal sense of coffee being a plant, fruit, seed, and, eventually, a drink. As I found myself writing more and more with a cappuccino or espresso by my side, I realized coffee is even more when I think of it figuratively.

The word “coffee” is usually connected to particular images in people's minds. That image varies based on what the individual's experiences have etched into their mind as “coffee".  For one person it's a mug with brewed coffee; for another, fragrant grounds in a family-sized container; for another, fresh beans being smelled through the bag at a specialty coffee shop. The list goes on and on. 

As a barista and poet, my goal in this is to bring the two together in a meaningful way that can bring value to those who engage with it. Poetry has served me as a valuable way to navigate thought and emotion. Poetry forces me to take my thoughts and emotions and engage with them intentionally and reflect. I hope that I can help others pull a similar value from the way they engage with coffee.

The intention of these 7 poems is to encourage all the folks who love coffee to engage with it a little differently than they usually would. Get a drink you’re not used to, drink your usual a little slower. If you always do to-go take time to stay in or if you usually stay, grab a to-go and take a nice walk with it. Whatever it looks like for you, do it with intention, then reflect. Even if you don’t drink coffee, the concept of intention and reflection is the same with tea. Throughout the week, gather any ideas you get from your shift in routine  (Did you notice new flavors? Were you more patient to start your day?) and share them with me!

The Reflection

Coffee is a non-essential item that so many of us enjoy. We use it so often that it can become so easy to fall into a routine and forget that so much went into crafting it and making it available to us. Taking time to step away from our normal coffee routine and do something slightly different can stir new thoughts. It made me want to re-evaluate the amount of time I take to properly respect how much I don’t know about coffee. This is true for many of the items and people that have become so present in our lives that we can afford to forget what went into making them available to us. Shifting routine and operating with more intention can help us better appreciate those forgotten items and folks in our lives, too.

As part of my preparation for this blog, I spent a couple of hours with Bevan, our coffee roaster, talking about what's behind the beans. He educated me on the many steps in the process of starting with a tree of cherries in Ethiopia and ending up with a cup of liquid with nuanced flavors like bergamot, fresh peach, and hard candy. As he broke down the extensive processes involved, his appreciation for the people involved became glaringly clear. 

This project allows me to share with you a piece of the learning that came with what was a massive step outside my coffee “routine”. Crafting the poems around coffee in the hope of creating one cohesive work was a step outside my creative comfort zone.  The reflection that comes from me engaging with coffee in such an intentional way is, how much I appreciate all the people involved in helping me become who I am. Cliché, I know, but true. The important thing to me is that I share with them, in just as intentional of a way, how valuable they are to my process, growth, and accomplishment. So, I plan on taking time to do some very intentional writing for the people closest to me that express how much I care for them. I encourage you to engage with the people in your life with more intention. It isn’t always an easy task because busy is the trend but, call someone, invite them to coffee, sit, talk, and enjoy.

-Philip B.