Stumptown Coffee

Who doesn’t pretend to be a coffee connoisseur these days? It likely became mainstream with the accessibility of Starbucks and its gourmet choices and beans from around the globe. When I lived in New York I would occasionally coffee shop hop with my friend Nate in search of unique and quirky places that served coffee for discerning palates like ours. Yeah right. I may not have the most discerning palate but I do appreciate a quality crafted cup of coffee.

Enter Stumptown coffee. Born in Portland, Oregon, Stumptown coffee takes the craft to a new plane. From grower to cup, they seek mindful attention in every step. Stumptown is not just fair trade — they’re direct trade. Working with growers they can ensure that they have the best quality beans, that the money goes right to the grower, and that there are no chemicals used in production and harvesting. But it doesn’t stop there. Stumptown uses roasting machines from the early 1900s that allow for manual adjustments of temperature that varies depending on the type of bean. Many mainstream roasters roast at one temperature regardless of the kind of coffee. Stumptown is able to monitor temperature and air pressure, ensuring a perfect roast. Then there’s the coarseness of the grind and the amount of grounds to use for the perfect cup. One Stumptown shop in New York apparently moved to a different location to compensate for the change in air pressure that an outside door was causing. Talk about art. If you order a cappuccino from a Stumptown shop you’ll also notice the care taken with the cream design on the top of your beverage.

So what does this all have to do with God? We’ve known businesses and craftspeople who care about what they do. They produce a quality product. For them it’s not about money, it’s about their craft, a labour in which they take pride. Work is a way to praise God. The Catholic Church speaks about work guided by the Holy Spirit being a spiritual sacrifice. I like to consider Jesus and Joseph at work in their carpentry shop building something. We can imagine Joseph teaching Jesus the love of his craft. Their focus on the work almost becomes a prayer. I couldn’t imagine them half-assing a table or a chair. If all work is for God’s glory, why would you produce anything less than your best?

The folks at Stumptown may not think about their labour as a way of glorifying God, but whether they realise it or not, it does. They desire to create a quality product for the enjoyment and goodness of others, maybe even for the common good. And they use God’s gifts—the talents of the growers, the coffee plants, the machines, and their handicraft—to create a cup of coffee that may bring meaning to someone’s morning.

The next time we think of ourselves in the “daily grind” maybe we can think about Stumptown and the grind of their coffee. Is our daily labour just a careless “grind” of boring  coffee or is it work done with attention and care? How is our work, whatever it is, bringing glory to God?

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