Coffee. That magic elixir that powers many of our mornings. I maintain few luxuries in my life as a missionary, but a decent cup of coffee in the morning is almost nonnegotiable for me. Coffee, to me, offers some measure of civility and stability in this world. Coffee is the cornerstone of my morning routine. The world could be falling apart around me, yet I will wait until after my morning coffee to deal with it, mostly because I am better equipped to deal with these situations after a good cup of coffee. I have two basic morning routines, based on whether I workout or not. Coffee fits in either immediately after I wake up or immediately after my workout, usually coinciding with my morning quiet time.
My default, like a lot of Americans, is Starbucks. I know I will catch some flak for professing my love for a corporate coffee giant, but you are guaranteed a decent cup of coffee every time, no matter where you are in the world. I would also venture a guess that the Indie coffee movement would not have happened without Starbucks. For better or for worse, Starbucks introduced most of us to a world beyond Folger’s and Maxwell House. Also, many people really discover coffee for the first time at Starbucks. Starbucks was definitely my entry point into the coffee world. Also, many of the independent roasters and baristas that I know, all very talented people, got their start working at a Starbucks.
My at home preferences are more varied. My preferred method of preparation is the Aeropress. The Aeropress is a recent innovation in the coffee world. I like it because I can prepare a good, quality cup of coffee in a short amount of time. The basic process is grind the beans, put the grounds into the chamber, pour boiling water into the chamber, seal with the plunger, and after a minute or so, plunge. The disadvantage to this method is, while it makes a great cup of coffee, it only makes a single cup of coffee, so it is not very practical for larger groups.
Prague itself is home to a growing number of fantastic local roasters, so I have a variety of beans to choose from. As of late, my rotation includes beans from Friend’s Coffee House, which has a house roast that I really like, and beans from a place called Dum Kavy, which translates to house of coffee. The owner and roaster at Dum Kavy is a gregarious man who is rightfully proud of his product. He personally signs every bag.
Coffee has a long history in Prague. A cafe culture has existed in Prague for most of the last century and a half. Kavarny (coffee shops) like Cafe Louvre or Kavarna Slavia have been in existence for over 100 years, some with a few decades off under communisim. Cafe Louvre was frequented by the likes of Franz Kafka and Albert Einstein. The coffee shop has been a meeting point here for generations. And while several of these older cafes are still in existence, lately there has been a wave of a new generation of coffeeshops, each with their own unique identity and, for many, their own roasts. Some of my favorites include La Boheme, the Farm Letna, Kavarna co hleda jmeno, and Pražírna.
The coffee shop itself serves a very practical purpose for my work here. From a ministry standpoint, meeting people for coffee is the cornerstone of a lot of spiritual conversations. Conversations occur a lot easier over coffee or a meal. Coffee is disarming. It allows people to sit back, relax, and not be so formal. We can simply be friends and have a nice discussion. Coffee shops also serve as a gathering point. I have had one on one meetings, small group discussions, and entire church services in a coffeeshop. Coffee and coffee shops are a vital part of my life and ministry here in Prague, a fact that I hope will continue long into the future.