“Hey Ali, where’s your coffee?”, a colleague jokingly asked me during a recent conference. He was just one of many colleagues and friends who’s commented to me about my love of coffee. If you follow this blog or my Instagram you will know that I’m always showing a coffee cup, coffee shop, coffee shot on my skinny legs or fat face, not to mention my Coffee Sessions articles. For many it seemed I had developed this personal brand of me and coffee, and with my Friday coffee selfie triggering the end of the week. However it was one question a friend asked me that made me recollect how my love affair started. She asked “What was the best coffee you had and why?”.
I’ve always drank coffee since my early 20’s, at that time coffee shops were not the phenomenon it is now. I had no idea of what blends were or single origin or any of that caffeine verbiage. All I knew be it Nescafe or some local grocery brand, I liked it black and sugar. I recall sitting my with my boss in my first job as a 21 year old, even saying to him, “Yeah man, coffee has to strong, black and with sugar!” He then went on to nearly spitting his tea out laughing and telling me the fact I was contradicting myself when he saw me add milk to my black coffee as I was talking. “It bodes well for me that you find my contradictions funny, please remember that when you review the work I didn’t do”, replying back with smile of utter conviction. The point is I was clueless, and to be honest not to different to how I am now, but regardless I am not the guy who is solely focussed on taste. So for me to simply answer the question of what my best coffee is wouldn’t actually mean anything. Drinking coffee, be at home or going to the coffee lounge is a personal experience of stopping time and of reflection, as well as the odd photoshoot.
Suddenly realising I was sat in total silence, going through this exact thought process whilst staring into space for a good few minutes, my friend who asked the question was growingly concerned I hadn’t moved. I smiled and began to answer. It was late autumn 2014, Portland Oregon. The place was Stumptown Coffee Roasters where I’ve already written about this cool lounge. However it was who I was with that made me pick this coffee as the best I’ve ever had. Sitting with my boss, who was actually more of a mentor than we both realised at the time. We discussed work, life and thought processes. Whilst I was drinking a cappuccino that tasted just as amazing as it looked, he began to open my mind into thinking in different ways and how we can apply what we know to other scenarios. It really was, “Oh yeah, how did I miss that?” moments. Obviously I hid the fact the real reason why I missed it was because American women loved the English accent, especially from a brownie handsome prince looking guy, which were my primary thoughts at that time. But the greatest thing he made me realise during that conversation was possibilities. The possibilities that could be utilising the knowledge and skills I had without even knowing I had either. You have to know up to this time, yes I was doing okay career wise, but in reality I was always wondering when will be the time everyone realises all I’ve been doing is smiling and bullshitting my way through life. However after that conversation, which was not a lecture, or coaching session rather a brainstorm of possibilities, It was at that point I realised that there were always possibilities in front of me. I was just blind. I know that not every possibility would result in success, and boy can I prove that over the years since! Yet the very fact that my own mind was now open to at least exploring them and most importantly, knowing that yeah, hey, I have got some good shit going on within myself. This fact alone is why this cup of coffee was my fondest. Since then, I saw traveling in a different light, I became entrepreneurial rejuvenating existing business and starting new ones, I did public speaking, became a serial networker, prejudices slowly removed, got a new job, even started writing doing this blog and now even completed my first book. And this is just a sample. Not even mentioning personal impacts to family, friendship, romance, faith and of course my son. Did I make mistakes, damn right. Did I have success, damn right. Am I happy, damn right. All from agreeing to going to get a cup coffee. This wasn’t a one off either, I have numerous inspirational moments, conversations, deal makers, whilst having my espressos. How grateful I am this didn’t happen in a bar!
Over time yes, I started to notice flavours more, the ambience of the cafe was also a factor and actually enjoyed the liquid I was drinking on a pure cosmetic basis. I recall sitting in a coffee shop in Zagreb really in the zone writing away. Any writer knows when you are in the zone, it takes more than the house burning down to distract you stopping. However this coffee I sipped casually while typing away with my other hand, physically made me mouth the words, “What the fuck?!” in sheer yummy tasting, lip licking goodness. Long may those moments also continue.
So this is it. This is what coffee means to me; a daily ritual to order a double espresso, stop time and wonder what I’m doing and going to do with all the possibilities within and in front of me. Along with the thought that no matter bad things are, or even how good things are, there are always possibilities. Peace & Love.