August 7, 2016
I went outside. It was early morning. I sat in my tree, the tree that overlooks the ocean, and despite the chilly onshore breeze, I enjoyed a wonderful cup of coffee. I really did, it happened, I was there.
I could tell you what the coffee was, exactly where it was from, and the farmer’s name. I could think about what I was tasting and try to describe it as precisely as possible. I could describe how I roasted and brewed coffee.
But the most important thing was how the coffee tasted me in that moment, now past. It was personal.
This is just one meaning of the word taste, and perhaps the definition that gives meaning to all other senses of that word. In theory. But these moments can be rare, Even though it's endlessly possible for us to have them. My own distance to it grows as I describe it, write about it, make something of it. Did it even happen?
And sadly, the way we arrive at such moments often works against us having them. In coffee this means navigating too many streams of information telling us too many things about what we must do to have an enjoyable cup. As if enjoyment was in the thing itself, in the brown liquid.
If there was a technique to guarantee enjoyment, I would love to know about it. Knowledge about the origins of a coffee, and knowledge about the technique to produce a "quality cup" does not seem to enhance the chances of enjoyment. Foodies might disagree, but talk of ingredients and methods is a different kind of pleasure and has nothing to do with the actual experience of taste.
Forgetting about the predicates that make the cup of coffee possible seems no better as a guarantee of enjoyment. Followers of Zen Buddhism would disagree, as they have found a way. But they are wrong.(lol)
I'm glad to have these moments, with a cup of coffee in my hand. I imagine you've had them too. And maybe the fact that they can't be reproduced with every cup, no matter what we know (or don't know) or how diligently we try, makes these moments more special.