Coffee and Gratitude


Coffee is essential to my morning routine. Even if I get a good night’s sleep, that first (or third) cup of coffee in the morning is really what sets the tone for my day.

And some mornings, if I’m having a hard time waking up and doing anything else while I drink the coffee, I like to take the time to meditate on how grateful I am for that coffee. I remind myself about how this small, warm cup of energy in front of me is the result of my connection to a much larger world.

There’s the ingredients to the coffee. The beans themselves were stocked on store shelves by people who work on the store. They were brought to the store on a truck, and somebody had to load, drive, and unload that truck. People roasted and packaged the beans before they were put on the truck. Other people shipped the beans from where they were grown to the place they were roasted. People grew those beans, tended to the plants, and harvested the crop. Which means that I’m also thankful for the place that the beans grew: for the soil, the plants themselves, and the climate that allowed for planting coffee there.

So yes, if I buy a bag of beans that originated in Kenya, I am taking a moment to bless the rains down in Africa.

There’s a similar chain of people involved if I put sugar in my coffee. If I add cream, I also get to feel gratitude toward cows.

The water from my coffee comes from our well, so I’m thankful to the people who drilled our well, to the people who installed the plumbing in our home so I could use that water, and to the aquifer that we draw our water from.

There’s my coffee maker, which had to be assembled by people according to a design made by people. My coffee maker uses electricity, so I’m thankful to the people who installed the wiring in our home, to the people who maintain the power lines that run to our home, and the people who operate the power plant that provides us with electricity.

I’m drinking the coffee from a mug. In this case, it’s a Star Wars mug with a picture of the Death Star that my in-laws got me as a Christmas gift, so I’m thankful to them (especially because it’s a huge mug). I’m thankful for the people who made the mug. I’m thankful to the people who decided to put Star Wars branding on the mug, since it encouraged the gift purchase.

So I’m also thankful to George Lucas when I’m drinking coffee this morning.

“I bet this will look great on a coffee mug in 30 or 40 years.”

And this has barely scratched the surface, because you could think about how all those trucks that had to carry different goods to stores were traveling on roads that had to be built and maintained by people. They had to be planned out by people. They had to be funded by many, many people through taxes.

If there were boats involved in shipping some of the goods, well there’s room to feel gratitude toward the people who designed and built those boats. There’s also cause to be thankful to the designers of the first boats.

And if I’m stretching back that far, I should feel gratitude to the first people who decided that they should throw some ground up beans in boiling water and drink the result, because that was a stroke of genius.

There is little we can enjoy in this world that hasn’t in some way been touched by other people.

When we don’t remember that; don’t acknowledge that, it can harden our hearts. It can lead us to giving ourselves too much credit for our joys and our successes. It can make us feel disconnected from others.

And it can make us forget how much we owe to each other.