Stood on the third floor of the beautiful Châteauform’ event space looking out onto Parc Monceau in Paris, on my second day of an intensive training course with L’Oréal, I knew cracking open a can of Red Bull wasn’t the way to go to get myself an energy boost.
That was the first day that the bittersweet liquid passed my lips and we’ve been enjoying a passionate affaire d’amour ever since.
I didn’t chose the mug life, the mug life chose me.
On my journey of mindful consumption, I wanted to take time out to think about one of my mindless daily rituals – le café au lait.
Two hundred google tabs and three black americanos later, I feel like I’ve been pelted in the face with a billion coffee beans. It absolutely blows my mind how you can take something simple and grind it down into a galaxy of thoughts.
In this brown cup of magic there is a deep-rooted history dating back to 9th century Ethiopia, where legend has it a goat herder named Kaldi noticed the effect that eating cherries from the Coffea plant was having on his goats. Word of this energy boosting concoction flowed out across the lands and Coffee Culture began.
The first Coffee House bubbled up in Damascus, Syria, then eventually spilled out across the borders and into Europe during the mid 17th century. Coffee houses became melting pots for artists, writers, philosophers and poets, for intellectual debates, business meetings and political gossip.
Today, you can stand on the corner of a street in any metropolis for just a few minutes and you’ll no doubt see as many Coffee cups as you do people.
Sometimes it feels like we’re a load of Carrie Bradshaw wannabes trying to put out a personal ad saying “I’m busy, I’m important, I went to an amazing party last night and I need my caffeine fix before my big business meetings today – look at me I’m cool”.
THE COST OF COOL
There is, of course, a price tag on cool.
In the UK alone, we’re throwing out 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year and only 1% of these are getting recycled. Extrapolate this out globally and you have to apply to it 500 billion cups of coffee, a $100 billion industry and the world’s second largest commodity after crude oil. Deforestation, GM crops, wildlife extinction, unfair pay, carcinogens, excessive water consumption, carbon footprint… the list goes on.
I have a feeling that in this fight against my own Squanderlust, no matter which path I take towards becoming a more mindful consumer, I’m going to end up at the same crossroads: it’s so easy to unearth the evil in everything we do.
Everything is flawed.
You stop eating meat you hear horror stories about cheese and eggs. You turn vegan and you read about organic vegetables not being truly organic. You buy fair trade coffee but you know it’s still shipped thousands of miles, polluting the atmosphere on it’s way to your lips.
No mindful move will ever be truly pure, but there is enough information out there to rake in some knowledge, plant the seeds for positive change and harvest a little appreciation for the good stuff.
7 MINDFUL WAYS TO ENJOY A CUP OF COFFEE
1. Back to the Grind – grinding my own because everything tastes so much better when it’s a labour of Love
2. You Call the Shots – no caffeine injection post midday
3. Déja Brew – getting up 15 minutes early to enjoy the sound of the kettle boiling, the splosh of coffee into my cup and having time to be grateful for every sip
4. Procaffeinating – saying NO to Coffee on the Go
5. Once You Go Black – I am not lactose intolerant, I’m just not a baby cow
6. A Whole Latte Love – avoiding the chains and supporting independent businesses
7. Espresso Yourself – soaking up the educationals, on my way to becoming my version of a Coffee Connoisseur