Nearly twenty years ago when I first was assigned to cover the specialty coffee industry, I made my way to Long Beach where the SCAA’s annual convention and exhibition was being held. Immediately, I was drawn into the community of coffee. It was, and still is, a community of professionals all working hard to advance the love of specialty coffee around the world. During that first visit, I met coffee farmers, importers, roasters, and retailers – all of whom welcomed me into the community of coffee, sharing their experiences, knowledge, and friendship.
Since that Spring day years ago, I have continued to enjoy the connections that coffee brings. With these long-time friends from all around the world, I share experiences of travel to coffee farms, conferences, educational seminars, and life’s day-to-day events.
This time, in Boston last week, it was no different. As I arrived in the city that opened its arms to welcome our coffee community, I was immediately reconnected to all my coffee friends. Open arms, kisses on both cheeks, and cup after cup of coffee.
In addition to the people, I have also found that it is the ‘place’ that is important to these coffee connections. Whether it is in a small village in Mexico or Brazil, or a conference city, such as Boston, these places provide a backdrop for our friendships to grow.
This year, while in Boston, I connected with so many of my long-time coffee friends, as we shared in story exchanges, family updates, and wild adventures in the world of coffee. As we shared in a cup of coffee, we made a connection with each other, and will no doubt in the future say, “Remember that time in Boston, when . . .”
While much of my time was spent at the convention center, I did venture out to visit to enjoy the beauty of Boston (although it was a bit windy and chilly). There, in the company of my ‘coffee’ friends, we shared the restaurants, bus rides, sidewalks, and the airport with marathoners from around the world. The city was alive with excitement and anticipation for the prestigious event.
On the morning of my departure, the day before the race, I shared a quick conversation with three marathoners heading out for their last run before the race. As I turned to catch the bus to the airport, I offered a quick ‘Good luck!’ and ‘Have a great time!’ then headed on my way. It was a brief, but memorable connection. Two worlds – the world of marathoners and that of coffee – briefly brought together by a city.
There are so many opportunities in our daily lives to connect. Be it through a marathon, a coffee convention, a night out with friends, a family celebration, or a smile and ‘hello’ to someone you pass on the street.
As yesterday’s events remind us, it is important to connect, and make the most of every moment. It is a reminder to slow down and reconnect with your family, friends, and anyone who may cross your path.
Throughout history, coffee has been a way for us to connect. To me, and to the thousands of coffee colleagues who gathered in Boston, coffee is truly about connections. Born out of business, these connections become long-time personal relationships. At home, this daily ritual brings me in connection with my family, my friends, my local barista, and the farmer who produced the coffee that I am drinking.
Whether it is over a cup of coffee, a shared meal, or a brief discussion with someone standing next to you in line, take the time to connect. You’ll never know what world of possibilities that connection may open up.
And, to Boston and those affected by this event, the world comes together as a community to share in your grief.