I enjoy a good cup of coffee. Oftentimes, coffee plays the role of fuel for many. It helps you get through the day. It keeps you warm when it’s chilly or rainy. It helps you poop.
But to me, coffee is more than just a cozy drink that warms my insides and pumps caffeine into my veins.
Coffee is how I pay the bills. I manage a local coffeeshop in north Kansas City, and have been there for about four and a half years. When I started working there, it was merely a means to pay for college as I pursued my degree in English Writing. After I graduated, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I wanted to write books. I knew I needed a way to pay the bills while I wrote, and coffee made the most sense to me.
I’ve often reflected on why I feel such a connection with the dark, aromatic liquid. It occurred to me that the process of producing a cup of coffee was very similar to creating stories and manuscripts.
Last year I had the pleasure of visiting a coffee farm in the mountains of Puerto Rico, called Hacienda Pomarrosa. Here, I was able to witness the process first hand. It was eye opening for me to see how the coffee trees were grown. I imagined them in some sort of orchard or organized rows, like you would see apple trees or grape vines. This was much different. The trees were grown wherever they decided to grow, on a hilly mountainside in between other bits of tropical foliage, with orange and banana trees.
For me, these trees were like ideas. They are sporadic in where they sprout up, with story ideas growing amongst all the other thoughts of your day. These idea trees must be harvested, if you’re going to get any kind of fulfilling and healthy product out of them.
The trees sprout white flowers that in turn grow cherries, changing from green to red, and then grow the green coffee beans inside them. The maturation of the bean inside the cherry is like the development of the story as it’s written. Each stage of the coffee bean is like the stages of producing your best work: writing, rewriting, editing, beta reading, and editing again. There may be obstacles that threaten the harvest, like leaf rust, harmful insects or even worse, writer’s block.
Though once it’s time, so much hard work is put into picking the cherries with bare hands on uneven ground. So much hard work is put into getting your manuscript ready for publication.
After all the hard work of the cherry’s getting picked, it’s almost as if the process has just begun. The beans need to be extracted from the sorted cherries, washed, dried, and bagged up in burlap sacks to be shipped to my shop where we will roast, grind, and brew them.
Of course my customers at the coffeehouse never see the process from the tree. All they know is the steaming mug of fresh coffee in their hands much like a reader holding your finished novel. They may not know the hard work and love that was put into your book, but the hope is that they enjoy the delicious, fulfilling product that they hold.
So next time you sip a satisfying cup of coffee, think about the culture of the country you are drinking as it warms your throat. Think about the women that handpicked the cherries that made their way across the world to bring you happiness. Allow yourself to feel the connection between that cup in your hands, and the process of the craft of storytelling.
❤ Kristin and The Wordwraiths.