My Ode to Coffee.
I enjoyed Dr. John Douillard, DC’s recent article “Coffee! The Good, the Bad, and the Ayurvedic Perspective.”
Though the article was well-researched, and definitely serious business, the good doctor left the spiritual benefits of coffee drinking out of his otherwise comprehensive piece, and I’m here to pick up the slack, people.
Call me a dreamer, but I hold coffee in high regard as a wonder drug cure-all love potion constitutional beverage from hell. Like no other drink in history, coffee gives temporary shelter to the artists, the poets, and the downtrodden. It is a world in a cup, it is a map and a mysterious journey.
“I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee.”
Bottom line, for the article? The jury is out on health benefits, and moderation steps forth, rearing his very sensible, tedious head as a pseudo solution. Thankfully, we are left to our own definition of “moderate”.
How backed into a corner are we here? I think we can wedge “spiritual health” into the calculations, just enough to justify that ninth cup.
What is this stuff, beyond the brown-black soul poem of its simple presence? What do the great thinkers of our day make of coffee? What questions do we need to address on java, to get this article off the grounds? (Other than the proverbial: “where can I get some, like now”?) For the opening overview, breathe in some steam from Gertrude Stein.
“Coffee is real good when you drink it gives you time to think. It’s a lot more than just a drink; it’s something happening. Not as in hip, but like an event, a place to be, but not like a location, but like somewhere within yourself. It gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, like be yourself, and have a second cup.”
The article might have peaked for insight right there, and if it did, hey, you could do worse for that wisdom dose we are all after. Gertrude is the man, but she is not alone. Other great thinkers have uttered sweet truths on the topic too.
“Without my morning coffee I’m just like a dried up piece of roast goat.
~Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) The Coffee Cantata
There is just no way a dried up piece of roast goat feels good. None of us want to be roasted. (Vegan power what up!) Bach hits on something essential here. It is the transformative power in the stuff. We are talking way beyond the caffeine, you know that, right?
“No coffee, no prana.”
Can coffee really give us life energy, soul sustenance and power infused with a touch of grace?
Did Bob Marley know how to roll one? We do not have breathing rituals to enhance our coffee intake, or proper positions to assume while drinking. Every time you do it, you are doing it right. Call it Javasana.
And before I keep talking, let me just say this. You will achieve a much higher state from your coffee intake when it comes from a mug, a mug you love, a mug that is not a treekilling mug. That’s been covered here in this awesome article by René Cousineau.
Anyway, the stuff is simply much more than chemical, and our comfort in it is deeper than the caffeine. A can of Red Bull will never match what coffee does with us. Seeing my mom having coffee every day at the kitchen table was a signal that everything was right with the world. You can’t translate that feeling. “Reassurance Roast” should be a flavor.
Coffee is an inexplicable elixir in times of woe and strife. A companionable constant in this all-too-steady event and information flow. A source of quiet, packing its own special noise. We drink coffee to warm the soul and mind, to bestow instantaneous ignition, and against all odds, to catch a clue.
“I think we all pray to the first cup of the day. It’s a silent prayer, sung while the mind is still foggy and blue. “O Magic Cup,” it might go, “carry me above the traffic jam. Keep me civil in the subway. And forgive my employer, as you forgive me. Amen”
~Stewert Lee Allen
There is a ring of truth to those words, and, (not wanting to take anything away from yo mat and mala time, just sayin’) a unique, sacred simplicity in this reverent embrace of the mighty bean as a daily ritual. Sometimes, we bow to our coffee in supplication. We take refuge in coffee. Given that, how often should we imbibe? We are told to pray without ceasing.
“In Seattle you haven’t had enough coffee until you can thread a sewing machine while it’s running.”
I believe Jeff has several gods on his payroll, so if he can’t speak on coffee’s spiritual power, who can? Insight such as this would lead today’s brain to think that nine cups is child’s play. If you think this smacks of addiction, remember an easy pathway out of addiction is to serve others.
And if serving others is your path, well, serve them coffee. Regardless of the quantity you are dosing, the comic genius Steve Wright once spoke of the great spiritual power in your daily mug.
“I put instant coffee in a microwave and almost went back in time.”
I don’t think any other beverage could have granted Steve that experience, much less the brilliant nuance of that line. Don’t even get me started on instant. Instant
coffee proliferation is Thailand’s glaring flaw. I’m a French press lover, but very open to anything that strains water through ground beans. I live in Mexico, where there is a saying:
“Nescafe no es cafe.”
(Instant coffee is not coffee.)
There is something coffee packs that nothing else has, and we all know, not all coffee has it. Enter the pathetic unemployed brother-in-law of coffee, that old rascal decaf.
What is decaf, and why do we go along allowing it to be called coffee?
“Decaffeinated coffee is kind of like kissing your sister.”
Rather than sharing the title of our very noble beverage, should we re-name the substance something a little more appropriate?
“Waiter? I want some dessert, but its late, so can I just have a cup of hot water tinted brown?”
And while we are here, a word on tea. The spiritual leader Garfield once sat at a table with John.
John: “How does your tea taste?”
Garfield: “It tastes like its not f*cking coffee.”
I may be paraphrasing, but essentially, that is what there is to say about tea.
It is good to be informed, and I’m happy we’ve had this time together. But don’t allow yourself to get too well-informed. You know her. We’ve all been behind her.
“If you walk into a Starbucks and order a ‘decaf grandee, half soy, half lowfat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread cappuccino, extra dry, light ice, with one Sweet-n’-Low and one NutraSweet,’ ooooh, you’re a huge asshole.”
And other than that, I think its game on! And if your practice has taken you past your need for caffeine, if you’ve been smugly looking down on all these dependent pseudo yogis who aren’t as far along the path as you, on your mountaintop, twig tea in hand, I humbly submit that you’ve clearly lost it, and its time for you to wake up and smell the coffee.