Coffee Talk

by Bob Turner on April 06, 2022

I hope you’ve already had your coffee. It’s the perfect way to transition from asleep to awake. I have a cup or two every morning. It’s not just me; 62% of Americans drink a cup every day. Most of those never stop at just one. But Americans are not alone.

Every culture has their form of ground beans mixed with hot water: Spain has cafe, Greece has kafe, Indonesia has kopi. The word for the drink (coffee) became inseparable from the word for the place it was consumed (cafe). What our grandparents called a coffee shop was often a sit-down restaurant with a large menu and a server making rounds with a pot of Maxwell House in each hand (black for regular; orange for decaf). Then came coffee shops where freshly roasted coffee was served alongside pastries in a busy, eclectic room. Then came coffee’s third wave: spartan, white tiled shops with high-end light roast coffee, often ethically sourced, and freshly roasted.

But that is just the recent history of the beverage. Coffee’s origins officially date back 500 years to the Middle East, but it’s hard to know. Perhaps there was someone who was making killer coffee in the time of Jesus but they simply didn’t have a great publicist to get the word out. Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick may not have fully achieved status as the great American novel, but it did give us a thoughtful Quaker named Starbuck. Melville eked out a modest living as a writer and survived in his final years off the wealth of his wife. The ship’s first mate has done considerably better.

Wine was the official drink during the time of Jesus. It was widely accessible and had medical benefits (1 Tim. 5:23). It represented conviviality and table fellowship. In excess, however, it can be a vice (Eph. 5:18; Titus 1:7). If we discover one day that generous coffee consumption is dangerous, many of us are in trouble. But so far we are good: coffee can help brain function and increase the benefits of exercise. Further, a cup a day can reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer, and depression. I know, I know, some folks will remind you that the Arabica bean (used for most coffees) is technically a drug. Every upper has its downers.

All of us may not drink coffee. But all of us need a community. One of White Station’s commitments is to be an Everyday Church. This means that we host places for people to gather throughout the week. Since 2008, a significant space for this has been the Common Ground Coffee House in the Community Life Center (CLC). Longtime partners David and Dot Douglas urged planners of the CLC to include a place where White Station could meet their community. Common Ground was started with the mission to “implement the church’s mission statement…to be a friend for the lonely, an ecourager of the discouraged, and an example of Christ to the lost.” Without question it has achieved that purpose.

Like everything else in the world, the coffee house paused in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. But starting this morning, April 4th, Common Ground is back. The hours are Mondays and Thursday, 8:30-12:00. As always, you can expect to find a comfortable space, loving friends, and a great cup of Memphis’s J. Brooks coffee. All for no charge.
I’m grateful for partners of the past who dreamed of this space and the ministry it could provide. And I’m encouraged by current partners who have stepped up to make sure it can thrive again.

If you haven’t had your coffee yet, there’s still time.

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