30 November 2011

The Coffeehouse Blues

Gitanajava = Gypsy Loves Coffee
(The original Rajah Coffee label was designed by Henri Meunier, 1897,
find it at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rajah-coffee-ad-1897-henri-meunier.jpg)
(This post was originally written, published, and distributed under the title The Coffee Canticle in December 2008.  Although the coffeehouse in question has long since passed on to the celestial heights, the thoughts and sentiments about what remain the same.)

Starbucks #6262, alias Lower Greenville Starbucks, officially closed 2 PM, Friday 19th December 2008.  Even before the farewell party ended at 6 PM, the guerrillas from Starbucks HQ arrived.  While the corpus delicti was still warm, they began taping sheets of brown butcher paper across the windows:  pulling the shroud tight.

When is a cup of coffee more than a cup of coffee?  What recombinant DNA transforms a mere java joint into a legend?

The unique atmosphere of the Lower G Starbucks and its denizens are profoundly missed and will not be easily replaced:  this sanctuary was congregation, communion table, khan, caravanserai, salon des idees, think tank, business incubator, town hall, and social rendezvous for the families, friends, and business, creative and intellectual talent of Lakewood, Greenville, White Rock Lake, SMU, and myriad neighbourhoods.  It reached far beyond customary retail demographics.

Now we are the lost and wandering Java Tribe, the Kahve Diaspora in search of a homeland.  I grieve for our loss.  [It's three years later, shy a week or two, and to this day, when we of the Java Tribe encounter one another, we still ask, "Where're you chilling these days?  How is it?  Oh.  Too bad."]

I grieve, too, for you who didn't "get it" before and who don't get it now, who think "what's the big deal about one less coffeehouse in a city brimming over with them", who still don't understand that a cup of coffee is significantly more than price paid, brand, roast or blend.

First sip to last, alone or with friends, the Blessed Ritual of Coffee is a eucharist, open to anyone professing faith in the transforming power of rich coffee and good friends; it is a caffeine canticle energising the individual even as it slows him or her down to observe the litany; it is a genuflection in unison, bonding our tribe as we shared consecrated moments to Just Be.

Close friends and family share the half-jest with me about the "Holy Bean" coffea arabica and the "coffee altar" in my home, a white pedestal cabinet containing all my coffees, coffee paraphernalia and cups, crowned with a coffeemaker, surrounded by coffee art.  The holy vessels for sharing communion.  It is my prie-dieu, my private oratory, my sanctum sanctorum.

Yet, here brews the fully caffeinated truth:  a lifetime of church-going notwithstanding, I have observed more Christlike-ness, experienced deeper revelations, been challenged by more probing calls to trust and obedience, and known the purest worship of thanks and rejoicing in God, all while on the patio at my local coffeehouse.  Impossible?  Not if you believe this:

"For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20, KJV)

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the raison d'etre for Gitanajava, because this Gypsy Loves Coffee ;-)

Next, my own coffeehouse, complete with vitraux vérité.  Wait and see.
See you on the patio!

1 comment:

  1. Lovely edition of the original poster's writing. I always thought "Rajah" looked Javanese, and you confirmed it!


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