Customer Number Nine at Blue Bottle

Brewing coffee is a four minute novel.

Pulling a shot of espresso is a mere fraction of that.

You grind, you heat, coffee blooms, and then it dies. The novel, the ceremony, takes on the seriousness of a game.

For example, coffee is like a game of pinball. Pinball, like brewing coffee, is random, encased in glass, and an event, once the ball is launched, almost entirely beyond the player’s control. We have this human desire to beat the odds by telepathically imposing our will on the ball or shaking the machine. In coffee, especially, espresso we are all players. We have a history of loss, and the occasional high score.

Daily, every morning in fact, the thrill comes from not knowing whether your efforts will produce a good cup, a good shot, or something destined for the sink. As people, our strong suit is reflection rather than prediction. We are better at mourning than prophesying. Since we seldom see the end result in our mind’s eye, we have this deficit that gives us hope. We hope to just keep the ball in play, hope to brew the cup, and hope to extract the perfect shot.


© all photographic and literary rights reserved 2009 Pat Riggs

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Comment by Gina Palandri on December 14, 2009 at 10:15am
I love this.

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