the secret to making Christian coffee

I want to share a little more of the significant conversation that Natalie and I recently had with some friends. What I want to share concerns work and art — both of which can be thorny topics.

When Jenny grappled with them as she reflected on what (if anything) makes ‘Christian art’, she wondered: ‘Why don’t we ever ask farmers whether they make Christian milk? Or Baristas, Christian coffee, especially when coffee making is seen as an art form?’

My friends and I picked up the second part of this question in our conversation. With utmost seriousness we asked, What would it look like to make distinctively Christian coffee? We joked about Christian baristas using their latte-art skills to draw crosses in the top of every coffee. But by the end of our conversation we’d agreed upon the following four features:

  1. Christian coffee would be made with love — that is, with unusual attentiveness and care. This would presumably apply to as many stages of the process as possible (from where, and by whom, it is grown and picked to the way the barista handles it).
  2. Christian coffee would thus be profoundly gratuitous — not necessarily in being given away for free, but in that the amount of love poured into making each and every individual cappucino would generously exceed the strict requirements of economic rationalism. In this, it might even be made in a way that echoes the pattern of our gracious Creator and Redeemer.
  3. The love and generosity poured into Christian coffee would be cross-shaped — in that the story of Jesus would shape, direct and provide a litmus test for the costliness of this gratuitous care and attention. So it’d takes us out of our comfort zone just as Christ’s identification with us in the incarnation did for him. It’d make time for people just as he did throughout his supremely ‘interruptible’ ministry (in which he constantly made time for — and showed mercy to — people who offered him nothing but their need). And it’d endure scorn, impatience, shame and rejection just as he did.
  4. And, as a consequence of all this, Christian coffee would perhaps be prophetic — speaking into a culture in which every interaction between is threatened with being winnowed down to a mere (dehumanised and dehumanising) economic exchange. And doing so in a manner that might even give us a foot in the door to proclaim what God has graciously done in Jesus.

What other features do you think distinctively Christian coffee would display?

3 comments

  1. Apparently during the rise of Evangelicalism in England, many ministers decided to go without coffee because the end of all things is near…and so there wasn’t time to waste on something as inconsequential as coffee.

    I know there is a right plethora of arguments about the silliness of such English people…

    But does eschatology come in to Christian coffee anywhere?

    1. Dan, when Natalie and I visited Jersey (the Channel Island that’s home to Jersey cows — who’s milk, naturally containing a whopping 6% fat, makes an exceptional cafe latte!), we learnt that when locals were deprived of coffee during the Second World War, they concocted a substitute drink brewed from charred parsnip. If that was an acceptable imitation back then, I’m hardly surprised that early British evangelicals felt the end of all things was near!

  2. As a former pusher of caffeine, thankyou.

    A christian maker of coffee would also know when to refuse service, even when to advise against coffee.

    A christian maker of coffee would show concern for the justice of their supply.

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