You need both coordinates. If you want to get somewhere.
Steven and Mauricio were born and raised in Costa Rica. They’re both coffee people. As were their fathers. And their grandfathers.
Shortly after I met Steven, he asked me if I liked coffee. I boldly told him that coffee was my second religion. Little did I know I was like someone who ran once in a while telling a three-time triathlon champion that I was quite into sports.
To be fair, I was being honest. I did consider myself to be a hardcore coffee lover. I drank it day and night. Unaffected by caffeine, I can have three cups of coffee right before bed, then, within a couple of minutes, be straight off to slumber for a solid eight. I do not need it in the morning to wake up. For me coffee is to be enjoyed, consciously, ceremoniously, for the taste, as often as possible, and whenever possible in the company of others.
One day in 2015, Steven left a small Ziplok bag on my desk with a note on it. The note read: “with reverence”. I had always used a French press. Steven recommended I get an Aeropress for this one. I did. I waited a couple of weekends until I had a Saturday free and clear. That morning, as the sun filled my apartment, I pressed that cup of coffee. I walked over to the balcony and slid the door open. It was March. About plus nine in the sheltered sun. I stepped outside. One sip later and the world had changed.
I had ever only bought grocery store coffee. “So this is what coffee is supposed to taste like!” I declared. I had no idea there was a whole other roasted world out there to explore.
Fast forward nearly three years and I am a co-owner of this cool little coffee roasting company. Tasked with telling its story through a full-immersion experiential program, including classes in botany, chemistry, physics, culture, economics, geography, relationships, politics, Spanish, and history. My thesis will be on buying coffee. I will earn my degree when I, by myself, shake hands with a farmer over my first purchase of green coffee.
I am in no rush. Tens of thousands of people are buying and selling coffee every day. Coffee has been with us for millennia. It will be here for millennia. The world does not need another coffee purchaser, but there’s always room for one more. However, this story is about something more. It’s about making the impossible happen, not by ourselves, but together.
Coffee is the vehicle. People are the journey. Community is the destination.
I’ve always known the latitudes I want to live between. Now I know the longitude. And how I’ll get there. And when I do, I will stand on this same mountain and take this same photo that Steven did. And right after I take it, I will toss my hat into the air.
Battle Grounds Coffee Co & Roastery
PS. Steven took this photo. It’s from Finca La Florida in San Pedro de Poas. It’s owner is Francisco Flores. A 5th generation coffee farmer. He’s one of the most influential coffee people in Costa Rica.